Report – Willock hits brace and Mavropanos features as Arsenal U23s thrash Tottenham

Premier League 2

Tottenham Hotspur 0 Arsenal 4 (Willock 4, 32, Gilmour (pen) 25, Nketiah 47)

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Joe Willock hit a brace as Arsenal U23s continued their recent resurgence with a hugely impressive 4-0 victory away to rivals Tottenham Hotspur at the Lamex Stadium tonight.

Arsenal’s previous game, against West Ham United last week, had been abandoned at half time due to adverse weather conditions, but the young Gunners had been hugely impressive in that 45 minutes.

They were excellent again on this occasion, with Willock taking centre stage, while Charlie Gilmour scored from the penalty spot and Eddie Nketiah, who was an unused substitute for the first-team last night, also managed to get on the scoresheet.

Coach Freddie Ljungberg made one alteration to the team that started against West Ham, with Daniel Ballard coming in for Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Konstantinos Mavropanos was again involved, with Ljungberg switching system to play three centre-backs, while Tyreece John-Jules was on the bench, where he was joined by goalkeeper Tom Smith, who received his first call-up at this level.

Iliev

Osei Tutu-Ballard-Mavropanos-Pleguezuelo-Thompson

Gilmour-Willock

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Subs: John-Jules (for Pleguezuelo, 68), T. Smith (for Iliev, 77), Zelalem (for Amaechi, 86). Not used: Medley, Coyle. 

Arsenal seemed especially eager to make an instant impact and they did just that as they opened the scoring with just four minutes gone.

It was Willock, who has enjoyed an excellent season, who got the goal, with the midfielder finding the net after good work from Bukayo Saka and Xavier Amaechi.

At the other end Deyan Iliev had to react well to keep out Jack Roles’ effort, but Arsenal remained very much in the ascendancy and it wasn’t long until Ljungberg’s team doubled their advantage.

Gilmour was typically composed as he scored a penalty, with the spot-kick having been awarded after Tottenham’s George Marsh was adjudged to have handled the ball in the area.

Arsenal added a third in the 31st minute, with Willock scoring his eleventh goal of the season with a fine strike.

There could have been another goal before the break, but the usually prolific Nketiah shot wide.

Nketiah made amends shortly after the re-start, with the striker capitalising upon a weak backpass to slot the ball home.

Iliev reacted well to keep out a rare Tottenham effort, and then Arsenal bolstered their attacking firepower even further as John-Jules entered the fray in place of Julio Pleguezuelo.

Arsenal were forced into another alteration in the 77th minute with Iliev suffering an injury, meaning Tom Smith had to come on in goal. Bizarrely, the first-year scholar made his debut for the U23s before featuring for the U18s.

Ljungberg’s side continued to go in search of more goals and Amaechi rattled the crossbar with a ferocious free-kick.

Gedion Zelalem replaced Amaechi for the closing stages and eventually the final whistle blew, with Tottenham being put out of their misery.

This was an excellent all-round display from Arsenal, and a reminder of the quality that the club possess in their academy at a time when the situation surrounding the first-team is far from ideal.

 

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