Report – Akpom and Mavididi impress as Arsenal XI thrash Boreham Wood

Pre-season friendly

Boreham Wood 0 Arsenal XI 4 (Akpom, Toral, Mavididi (2))

By Jeorge Bird @ Meadow Park, Borehamwood



A very strong Arsenal XI thrashed Boreham Wood 4-0 tonight in a pre-season friendly, with Stephy Mavididi hitting a brace on his return from injury.

Chuba Akpom, who could leave the club permanently before the end of the transfer window, was also on target, along with Jon Toral as an Arsenal side containing a mixture of players set to depart and starlets hoping to break through gelled impressively.

Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson both started but Kieran Gibbs wasn’t involved despite being named in the original squad.

Mavididi, back from the injury he suffered on loan at Charlton Athletic last season, started, as did Julio Pleguezuelo, who made his first appearance since returning from his temporary spell at Mallorca.

Jeff Reine-Adelaide received a run-out, while Krystian Bielik, Eddie Nketiah and Donyell Malen, who were involved with the first-team earlier in pre-season, were all on show here.

This game was notable as it marked the first occasion that Arsenal have deployed a 3-4-2-1 system below first-team level since Arsene Wenger implemented the change in tactics for the senior squad.



Jenkinson-Toral-Reine Adelaide-Bramall



Subs: Malen, McGuane, Johnson, Mourgos, Bennacer. Not used: Keto

Arsenal adjusted quickly to the formation change and started brightly as they pushed forwards with regularity.

There were plenty of slick passing moves from the Gunners and one such exchange culminated in Nketiah playing in Mavididi, with the sprightly attacker seeing his effort saved.

It was soon 1-0, with Nketiah being fouled in the area and Akpom, as he did in this fixture five years ago, scoring from the penalty spot.

Arsenal continued to cause all manner of problems for Boreham Wood, with Nketiah and Mavididi both coming close to scoring and it was soon 2-0.

Akpom was the provider on this occasion as he dropped deep and played a precise pass into the path of Mavididi, who finished expertly.

Arsenal effectively secured their victory before the break as they made it 3-0 when Toral, who played some excellent passes tonight, reacted quickly to tuck home the rebound after Nketiah’s initial effort was saved.

The same pattern continued immediately after the interval, with Arsenal remaining in the ascendancy.

It was 4-0 when Mavididi, who produced an excellent display, got his second goal of the game after being set up by Toral.

Nketiah had an opportunity saved shortly afterwards, with Boreham Wood then having a rare effort of their own.

Arsenal began to ring the changes thereafter, with Malen and Ismael Bennacer entering the fray, while Jenkinson lashed an effort wide after Bielik had embarked upon one of his trademark bursts forward from the back.

Jenkinson was getting forwards regularly himself and found Mavididi, who just took the ball a little too far wide of the goalkeeper, which made it difficult for him to find the net.

The intensity in Arsenal’s play understandably dipped a little thereafter but there were still some notable moments, including when Akpom rattled the crossbar with a fierce strike.

There was one negative on a night brimming with positives for Arsenal, with Bielik having to be substituted after suffering an injury that stemmed from a rash challenge.

Malen had chances to increase Arsenal’s advantage further still but 4-0 was sufficient and, overall, it was an encouraging display.

It seems unlikely that many of the players who started today’s game will be regulars at U23 level this season with permanent and loan departures on the horizon, but this game may well have enhanced the chances of some individuals securing moves elsewhere.

Akpom, for instance, will surely have impressed potential suitors with his all-action display, while the experienced Debuchy was resolute at the heart of a three-man defence.

Perhaps the most intriguing case is that of Toral, who was impressive here but has never really been provided with an opportunity to break into the first-team squad.

Decisions will have to be made on the futures of several players but this was certainly a worthwhile workout.


  1. Interesting using Jeff in CM, as he has all the qualities to be a Disney/Vieira clone. I also believe a vieira-clone is the ideal partner to Xhaka, which is interesting as right now Toral is probably the most like-for-like cover for Xhaka.

    Sadly, I doubt either will be used by Wenger, but I’d like both to be in the first team as cover, and both to be used as CMs in a 3-4-3.

  2. Hi Jeorge, good to see Reine-Adelaide return from injury, how do you assess his performance overall? It seems Arsenal are in considerable need of a powerful box-to-box midfielder type to partner Xhaka, do you think Jeff could make the step up? Although I would maintain we need a signing there, i’d be happy to see the youngster get a chance.

    Generally I think that with some young players their quality level can accelerate extremely quickly – within 6 months sometimes – when playing with higher caliber of senior players. I can kind of see this happening with Reine-Adelaide.

    1. Reine-Adelaide did okay but he wasn’t outstanding, especially when compared to Toral. However, that is understandable given that it was his first game back after injury.

  3. Good question “Con”, I would also like Jeorges input since I also miss a powerful box-to-box badly and have done for many years. IMO, we were fine when we had Cazorla in that position due to his immense talent but 1. Cazorla is extremely injury prone. 2. Cazorla works better with a more defensive CM partner. 3. We won´t find a replacement for Cazorla now.

    A few years ago, I thought Akpom could become a world class striker but I guess his injuries and loan spells have not worked.

    In general, the last few years, we´ve had several loan spells who has not worked out well at all.
    Any idea why and why we can´t put a clause saying a player can return before loan spell finishes?

  4. @Johan regarding loans,not many clubs will take players knowing they can be recalled at anytime..I agree if its not working the option is useful and in Gnabry case probably convinced him to leave the club

  5. Toral is quality, and would get in a lot of team.
    Mavididi IMO should be given a first team opportunity.
    I don’t think he has much to prove at reserve level

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s