Arsenal commenced their pre-season preparations with a 2-0 victory over Sydney FC today and, while most of the headlines will focus on Alexandre Lacazette, with the club record signing having doubled the Gunners’ advantage after Per Mertesacker opened the scoring, there were also some excellent performances from the young players involved.
Reiss Nelson, widely seen as Arsenal’s standout youth prospect, was deployed as a right wing-back and linked play effectively, frequently drifting inside to excellent effect, whilst he also came close to scoring himself.
Joe Willock also started as a deep-lying midfielder and snapped into tackles with regularity, while he played some excellent passes and managed to burst forwards on several occasions.
Meanwhile, Cohen Bramall, who has enjoyed a remarkable rise, coped well as a left wing-back, even if is clear that he still has some developing to do.
Krystian Bielik, who spent the second half of last season on loan at Birmingham City, also received a run-out as part of a three-man defence but wasn’t overly troubled.
Later on attackers Eddie Nketiah and Donyell Malen were both given a chance to impress as wing-backs, with Nketiah coming close to scoring on his debut when he struck the post.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who is set to be officially promoted to the first-team before the start of the new season, didn’t appear entirely comfortable as a centre-back but will hope to be deployed further forwards later in the tour.
Overall, it was an encouraging start to pre-season for Arsenal, especially as far as young players are concerned, with Willock, Nelson and Nkeitah in particular enhancing their chances of further involvement with the senior squad when the real action gets underway.