Arsenal prevailed past MK Dons with a 4-1 victory at Stadium MK today, with a host of youngsters involved.
Mohamed Elneny, back from his loan spell at Besiktas, put Arsenal ahead with a strike from distance after capitalising upon a mistake, before Eddie Nketiah made it 2-0.
An own goal from Rob Holding reduced the deficit, but Arsenal scored twice in the second half, with Mark McGuinness marking his first senior appearance with an emphatic header before Reiss Nelson scored a penalty.
The starting lineup was comprised entirely of first-team players but still contained some Hale End products, with Bukayo Saka and Nketiah starting. William Saliba, meanwhile, looked composed in his long-awaited first outing in an Arsenal shirt.
At half time there were a host of changes, with Joe Willock deployed at right wing-back. Ben Cottrell, usually a midfielder, was brought on at left wing-back and gave a good account of himself as he demonstrated his composure in possession.
James Olayinka, who was on loan at Northampton Town in the second half of last season, was also brought on along with McGuinness, Tyreece John-Jules and Miguel Azeez. For Cottrell, Azeez and McGuinness it was their first senior appearances for Arsenal.
John-Jules tried his luck with an effort but saw his shot pushed out for a corner. Azeez, meanwhile, didn’t give the best account of himself as he struggled to anticipate danger. Daniel Ballard also came on at centre-back and did well for the most part, while Tolaji Bola was largely assured on the left side of the back three.
Later on second-year scholar Daniel Oyegoke, who was used at centre-back, also came on, as did recent acquisition George Lewis, although the latter didn’t touch the ball.
McGuinness will be delighted to have got on the scoresheet and will now hope for better fortune after enduring a hugely frustrating 2019/20 campaign during which he barely featured, with injuries not helping his cause.
Overall, this was a useful runout for Arsenal and some of the youngsters, Cottrell in particular, may well have persuaded Mikel Arteta to give them further opportunities as the season progresses.
Arsenal: Leno; Cedric, Saliba, Holding, Tierney Maitland-Niles; Elneny, Xhaka; Saka, Nketiah, Aubameyang.
Subs (all used): Macey, Ballard, McGuinness, Bola, Azeez, Cottrell, Olayinka, Oyegoke, Willock, Lewis, Nelson, Smith Rowe, John Jules.