Premier League 2
Arsenal A West Ham United A (game abandoned at half-time due to adverse weather conditions)
West Ham United may not have been able to stop Arsenal U23s tonight but the fog ultimately did, with this Premier League 2 clash being called off at half-time.
Arsenal had assembled a 3-0 lead courtesy of efforts from Eddie Nketiah, Joe Willock and Konstantinos Mavropanos, but the result won’t stand, with the referee making the decision to abandon the game as visibility became increasingly difficult.
It is a frustrating outcome for Freddie Ljungberg’s side, who played some sublime football and gave a run-out to the returning Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but the decision was the correct one and this game will have to played again at some stage.
Ljungberg named a hugely exciting attacking quartet of Xavier Amaechi, Mkhitaryan, Bukayo Saka and Nketiah, while Mavropanos started in defence despite featuring as a substitute for the first-team against Manchester City yesterday.
Subs: Okonkwo, Ballard, Medley, Olayinka, Coyle
It took some time for the game to spark into life, with the two sides both rather cautious in the early exchanges.
However, Arsenal gradually started to seize control and it became apparent that they could cause West Ham numerous problems down the opponent’s left flank, with Jordi Osei-Tutu and Amaechi pushing forwards with regularity.
A warning was served when Osei-Tutu delivered a superb cross into the box but Joe Willock was unable to latch onto it.
Defender Dominic Thompson was then booked for a rash challenge as he looked to prevent a West Ham counter-attack, but soon Arsenal were getting forwards down the right again, with Osei-Tutu’s cross finding Saka on this occasion, but the winger’s effort was blocked.
Mkhitaryan had shown some signs of rustiness early on, but the Armenia international forced a save with an effort and then Nketiah did likewise.
Arsenal were firmly in control but there were some occasional moments of alarm, such as when Mavropanos was caught out and Pleguezuelo had to make good use of his speed to race across and cut out the danger.
At the other end the young Gunners were getting increasingly closer to taking the lead as they hit the post.
Eventually they did manage to find the breakthrough and it was Eddie Nketiah who got the goal following good work from Amaechi. It was Nketiah’s first goal since November 3rd, but, with the game having been abandoned, his wait will go on. However, in mitigation, as he has been flitting between the first-team and U23 squads, the striker hasn’t featured very much at either level.
Then came another goal for Arsenal, and it came from the right side again, with Osei-Tutu crossing for Willock, who steered the ball home.
Saka then hit the crossbar and Arsenal added a third in the closing stages of the first half, with Mavropanos getting the goal, although by that point it had become increasingly difficult to identify the players due to the ever-worsening conditions.
The referee suspended play for ten minutes before the second half was due to start and then the game was officially called off, unsurprisingly so given that one of the goals wasn’t even visible.
This was certainly a rare occasion, and Arsenal will be disappointed to not be able to have the three points on their record.
It wasn’t an entirely wasted exercise, though, with Osei-Tutu and Amaechi further enhancing their reputations with excellent first-half displays.
Willock and Nketiah also caught the eye, while Charlie Gilmour played some slick passes in midfield.
Arsenal are back in action when they face Tottenham Hotspur away next week.