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Arsenal’s Gedion Zelalem ahead of schedule in recovery from injury

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Arsenal midfielder Gedion Zelalem has started the long road to recovery from his anterior cruciate ligament injury.

The 20-year-old suffered the blow while representing the United States at the U20 World Cup in May and was initially ruled out for around nine months.

However, Zelalem appears to be ahead of schedule in his recovery from injury as last Friday he was back running again for the first time on an anti-gravity treadmill, suggesting that he could return to action before the end of 2017.

Zelalem, who has made four competitive appearances for the Arsenal first-team, has had loan spells with Rangers and VVV-Venlo in recent seasons.

Meanwhile, defender Ben Sheaf missed the entirety of pre-season and the start of the campaign with a fractured vertebrae.

 

U23s – Derby 2 Arsenal 3 – Nelson impresses and Wilshere features in dramatic comeback

Premier League 2

Derby County 2 (Gordon 25, Jakobsen 56) Arsenal 3 (Nelson 61, 65, Nketiah 80)

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Arsenal U23s came from two goals down to win 3-2 away to Derby County at St George’s Park tonight, with Eddie Nketiah scoring the decisive goal in an enthralling contest in the young Gunners’ first game of the new Premier League 2 season.

A strong Arsenal side featuring Jack Wilshere, Francis Coquelin and Kieran Gibbs fell behind against Derby, with the hosts doubling their advantage after the break.

However, Arsenal’s quality eventually prevailed with Reiss Nelson, off the back of an outstanding pre-season, proceeding to score a brace; his second goal of such quality that it was scarcely believable.

The prolific Nketiah then applied the finishing touch to Arsenal’s comeback and, just like the first-team, Steve Gatting’s side have commenced the campaign with a dramatic victory.

Arsenal have a plethora of options to choose from at this level and they used their full quota of outfield senior players as Wilshere, Coquelin and Gibbs – players who once used to feature in such fixtures on a regular basis – were all called upon.

Gibbs played 45 minutes, while Wilshere and Coquelin were withdrawn with 17 minutes of normal time remaining.

Arsenal started with three in defence, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles again deployed as a right-sided centre-back, while Cohen Bramall filled in at left centre-back.

As a measure of Arsenal’s strength in depth at this level Matt Macey, Chiori Johnson, Jordi Osei-Tutu, Tafari Moore, Tolaji Bola, Charlie Gilmour, Vlad Dragomir, Ismael Bennacer, Jon Toral, Savvas Mourgos, Aaron Eyoma and Fortune wer all not in the squad tonight – surely there will have to be a lot of departures, either permanently or on loan, before the window closes, otherwise there will be a lot of unhappy players.

Huddart

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Nketiah

Subs: Pleguezuelo (for Gibbs, 46), McGuane (for Wilshere, 73), Dasilva (for Coquelin, 73). Not used: Keto, Malen.

Arsenal started impressively and played some neat passes, with one move culminating in the sprightly Nelson cutting the ball back for Reine-Adelaide, who should have scored when well placed.

Derby then threatened at the other end as Kellan Gordon shot over but it was Arsenal who were largely in control in the early exchanges.

Wilshere, making his first Arsenal appearance at any level for almost a year, missed two opportunities before later teeing up Nketiah, who was offside.

As the half wore on Derby started to make more of an impact with the holes in Arsenal’s rather unconventional setup being exploited.

Before the break it was Derby who took the lead as, following a misplaced pass from Maitland-Niles, the ball eventually fell to Gordon, who slotted calmly past Huddart.

Derby could have had a second before the break after a rare mistake from Krystian Bielik, but Huddart was alert to keep out the danger.

Gibbs was withdrawn at the break, with Pleguezuelo entering the fray, meaning Bramall switched to left wing-back.

Nketiah, who was constantly seeking to get into dangerous attacking areas, shot wide before Nelson, bursting forwards down the right flank, saw his cross gathered by Derby goalkeeper Joshua Barnes.

However, Arsenal remained vulnerable defensively and Derby took full advantage as Emil Riis Jakobsen got the better of Huddart after latching onto a through ball.

It could have been 3-0 – and potentially game over – within an instant but Derby substitute Luke Thomas rattled the crossbar.

Derby had been forced to withdraw Gordon and Max Bird, two of their standout players, following injuries but the Rams continued to play with much determination.

Arsenal needed to change something and they certainly did that with a switch to a back four taking place. That saw Maitland-Niles move to right-back, while Nelson was freed up to push forwards and cause all sorts of problems for the Derby defence.

The alteration in formation also helped to bring the best out of Reine-Adelaide and it was the Frenchman who located Nelson, with the latter reducing Derby’s lead with a neat finish.

Nelson certainly wasn’t finished there, however as just four minutes later he embarked upon a superb, direct run, with Derby’s defenders simply unable to catch up with him. What followed was rather spectacular as Nelson found the net with a stunning strike – another reminder, if one was needed, that this is a very special player indeed.

Derby missed a great chance to immediately make it 3-2 and then Nelson, epitomising his all-action display, made a precisely-timed defensive intervention.

Wilshere and Coquelin were replaced by Marcus McGuane and Josh Dasilva, with the latter pair eager to make an impact.

They certainly did that and Dasilva was there to set up Nketiah, who scored his first of what will surely be many goals this campaign as he made it 3-2 and rounded off the comeback.

The job wasn’t quite done yet for Arsenal as Huddart had to make a couple of stops in quick succession but Steve Gatting’s team held on and secured a memorable victory.

Nelson’s performance was certainly the standout feature of the game and the 17-year-old will surely be back involved with the first-team before too long.

Wilshere, meanwhile, showed some good touches but is evidently still working his way back to full sharpness.

Arsenal are back in action against Manchester City at Emirates Stadium a week today – that could prove to be another enthralling encounter given the quality that the respective teams possess.

Schoolboy Saka debuts as Arsenal U18s are thrashed by Fulham

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Image: Fulham FC

U18 Premier League

Fulham 4 Arsenal 1 (Balogun)

Arsenal U18s commenced the new season in frustrating fashion as they were beaten 4-1 away by Fulham at Motspur Park today.

The young Gunners finished in second place in the U18 Premier League last season but on this evidence it is difficult to envisage Kwame Ampadu’s side having a successful campaign this time around.

After a goalless first half Arsenal took the lead through striker Folarin Balogun but Fulham assumed control thereafter and ran out comfortable winners even though they squandered an opportunity to add to their lead from the penalty spot.

Ampadu named a starting line-up that consisted of nine second-years and one first-year, with new scholar Harry Clarke being given his debut at this level at right-back.

On the bench there were call-ups for some of the other members of the new intake in addition to schoolboy defender Bukayo Saka, who came on for his first appearance for the U18s.

Arsenal were without the services of several of their major talents, with Trae Coyle, Xavier Amaechi, Tyreece John-Jules and Jordan McEneff amongst those missing.

In addition, Alex Crean, Jay Beckford, Daniel Barden, Mark McGuinness, Bayli Spencer-Adams and Zak Swanson weren’t involved, while it shouldn’t be forgotten that Reiss Nelson, who is on the cusp of the first-team squad, is still eligible to play for the U18s.

Virginia

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Balogun

Subs: Saka (for Thompson, 46), Olayinka (for Ballard, 57), Smith (for Benson, 76). Not used: Okonkwo, Daley-Campbell.

Fulham caused some difficulties for Arsenal in the early exchanges, but Ampadu’s team managed to create some openings, with Balogun and Emile Smith Rowe both having chances to score.

The hosts started to dominate as the first half wore on and Arsenal had to be grateful to goalkeeper Joao Virginia for making some impressive stops to keep Fulham at bay.

It was Arsenal, though, who took the lead shortly after the interval, with Balogun heading in following impressive work from Smith Rowe.

The lead didn’t last very long at all, however, with Fulham levelling just a minute later courtesy of Sonny Hilton, who was found by Nicolas Santos-Clase.

After coming close to making it 2-1, Fulham eventually lead for the first time in the game when Cameron Thompson sent the ball beyond the reach of Virginia and into the net.

From then on Fulham were utterly dominant, with Thompson proceeding to score a hat-trick.

One of the Fulham striker’s goals was a penalty, while he also missed another spot-kick but it mattered little, with the scoreline emphatic enough already.

This was a difficult encounter for Arsenal but it is hoped that matters will improve in an attacking sense once the likes of Coyle, Amaechi and John-Jules are back in the side. Defensively, however, you could certainly be forgiven for having concerns.

 

 

Malen hits brace as Arsenal U23s thrash Watford 6-1 in friendly

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Donyell Malen hit a brace as Arsenal U23s concluded their pre-season preparations with a 6-1 thrashing of Watford today.

Eddie Nketiah, who, like Malen, was involved with the first-team earlier in pre-season, was also on the scoresheet, while Aaron Eyoma, Ismael Bennacer and Chiori Johnson were on target with the latter scoring a penalty.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of this game was the involvement of goalkeeper Deyan Iliev, who played 45 minutes on his first appearance for the club in over two years following an injury lay-off.

Meanwhile, midfielder Josh Dasilva made his first appearance after returning from helping England to win the U19 European Championship.

Ryan Huddart, Tafari Moore, Savvas Mourgos, Charlie Gilmour, Joseph Olowu, Marcus McGuane and Jordi Osei-Tutu were amongst the other players involved in today’s game.

Reiss Nelson makes debut as Arsenal overcome Chelsea in Community Shield 


Talented youngster Reiss Nelson made his official debut for Arsenal in today’s Community Shield success against Chelsea at Wembley. 

Having made a tremendous impact in pre-season, Nelson was rewarded with a place on the bench today and the prospect entered the fray in the 87th minute when he replaced Danny Welbeck. 

Victor Moses put Chelsea in the lead shortly after the interval but Arsenal seized control after the dismissal of Pedro, with Sead Kolasinac equalising and the game ending 1-1. 

Arsenal proceeded to win 4-1 on on penalties. 

Joe Willock, meanwhile, was an unused substitute. 

Stephy Mavididi ready to make an impact in the Championship after joining Preston on loan

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Arsenal striker Stephy Mavididi has joined Championship club Preston North End on a season-long loan.

The England youth international impressed on loan at Charlton Athletic in League One last season before an injury cruelly interrupted his progress but he is now determined to make an impact in the Championship.

Fast, powerful and skillful, Mavididi made a major impact in pre-season for Arsenal U23s as he scored three goals in two games and the prospect had several loan offers to choose from.

He elected to link up with Preston and the 19-year-old, who made the bench for Arsenal in the League Cup last season, will be aiming to impress sufficiently to prove to Arsene Wenger that he deserves a place in the first-team squad.

 

Members’ Day report – Five youngsters train with Arsenal first-team at Emirates


Arsenal staged their latest Members’ Day at Emirates Stadium, with several youngsters selected to train with the first-team squad. 

Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock and Cohen Bramall were all involved, along with goalkeepers Matt Macey and Ryan Huddart.


With regards to first-team players, Mesut Ozil, who is carrying a slight knock, trained away from the main group along with Calum Chambers, Carl Jenkinson and Gabriel, with the latter stepping up his recovery from injury. 


Aaron Ramsey missed the session with a minor injury, whilst Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Joel Campbell and Chuba Akpom are all sidelined. 


Mathieu Debuchy and Jeff Reine-Adelaide, who have been playing for the U23s recently, both trained today.