Report – Daniel Oyegoke sent off as Arsenal U23s are beaten by Manchester United

Premier League 2

Manchester United 3 (Neville 23, Hugill 60, Shoretire 89 (pen.) Arsenal 0

Arsenal U23s saw their seven-game unbeaten run come to an end away to Manchester United, with Steve Bould’s side forced to play the majority of the game with ten men.

Daniel Oyegoke, who was making his first start at this level since October, was dismissed in the eighth minute and United seized control of the game thereafter.

Bould had made three alterations to his side from the team that drew with Chelsea last time out. Arthur Okonkwo replaced Karl Hein in goal, while Oyegoke was brought in for Jonathan Dinzeyi at centre-back. Kido Taylor-Hart was also given a start, with Reiss Nelson back in training with the first-team.

Arsenal were eager to make an instant impact but their task was made considerably harder in the early stages as Oyegoke was dismissed for a challenge on Hannibal Mejbri.

Oyegoke was furious with the decision, which was certainly a contentious choice, and Arsenal then had to sacrifice a creative player, with Charlie Patino being withdrawn so that Jonathan Dinzeyi could fill the void at centre-back.

Joe Hugill stepped up to take the penalty for United but Okonkwo was able to keep it out with an impressive save.

Eventually United managed to make the most of their numerical advantage, with Phil Neville’s son Harvey opening the scoring in the 23rd minute with an effort that Okonkwo perhaps should have dealt better with.

United looked to add to their lead before the break with Shola Shoretire and Ethan Galbraith trying their luck with free-kicks but Arsenal stood firm and Okonkwo made some impressive saves.

Folarin Balogun and Tim Akinola had opportunities to score for Arsenal early in the second period but were unable to take them, with United eventually making it 2-0 when Hugill scored as Okonkwo conceded in uncharacteristically calamitous fashion.

Arsenal, somewhat belatedly, made further changes, with Catalin Cirjan and Mazeed Ogungbo entering the fray, but United remained very much in control of proceedings and went on to get a third, with Shoretire scoring from the penalty spot after the forward was brought down by Ryan Alebiosu.

Overall it was a frustrating night for Arsenal as their unbeaten run came to an end, although the early red card certainly played a major part in proceedings.

The young Gunners will be determined to bounce back when they host Manchester City in their next game.

Arsenal: Okonkwo; Alebiosu, Oyegoke, Kirk, Lopez (Ogungbo, 83); Akinola (Cirjan, 82); Moller, Patino (Dinzeyi, 12), Cottrell, Taylor-Hart; Balogun. Subs not used: T. Smith, Lewis.


  1. After an unprecedentedly horrible start of the season Arsenal U23 had a good run in the past few games, but I’m still not convinced about Bould’s team selection skills (how could he choose Oyegoke and Kirk as starting CBs disregarding the U23 core defenders Dinzeyi and Rekik against a strong opponent and rival? why aren’t Cirjan, Azeez, Lewis playing? what will happen with the returners like Bola, Swanson, Coyle?) as well as his tactical competency (there is hardly any chemistry between Möller & Balogun, many attacking players moved out of position, substitutes has no effect on the game).
    For a while it seemed that the skeleton crew and the lack of option kind of forced him to play with the strongest line-up and reasonable tactics, but as he has more options it seems he is out of his depths and making more mistakes.

    1. Not sure that what Bould does can be judged the same way that you do the first team. This is developmental football. It will not always be the strongest possible team, along with the various injury situation at this level.
      Seems to me that a few U18 players are being integrated into the U23 level.
      Just a thought.

      1. I perfectly agree with you that we shouldn’t have the same standard for youth games that we apply to senior football. However I don’t think that it would mean that we cannot challenge dubious decisions on the grounds that life in the Academy is different or complicated.
        Starting a U18 RB in the U23 CB position is unusual to say the least. Ignoring fresh signings that aimed to balance the U23 team (Dinzeyi, Lewis, Salah, Ideho, Rekik) is also dubious. And disregarding in-form top-talent players like Azeez and Cirjan are strange; so is the extent of goalkeeper hoarding Arsenal do at the moment.
        Möller’s remarkable early yield gradually dried out, and while I only see the highlights of the U23 games it doesn’t seem that Nikolaj had many chances either. So it comes back to tactics or coaching skills.
        Developing U18 players is indeed important likewise integrating them into the team, but abandoning top academy talents as well as loyal utility players (McEneff, Bola, Coyle) seems like a too high price to pay.

  2. Wtf? This is about finding players ability, best positions and desire. Boulds job is to take those from the under 18s to the under 23s that are not ready for the first team. Get off his back, half of these kids should really be playing under 18 and the other half are exactly where they belong or should go on loan to a national League side.

    1. Come on, Atid. The U23 coach job comes with high prestige, high responsibility and a relatively high salary, so the quality of the performance can be subject to discussion. By all means challenge my critics on Bould, but implying he is doing his job well by axiom (as he is taking the young kids to the next level) – just like every other U23 coach is frivolous. There must be some success criteria to evaluate his (or any other youth coaches) performance. Feel free to suggest any. But you cannot disqualify the debate on the grounds of the kids being young…

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