Premier League International Cup
Arsenal U21s 2 (Ideho 33, M. Smith 45 (pen.) PSV II 7 (Tielemans 6, Sealy 8, Van Duiven 9, 56, Nassoh 59, Priske 83, 88)
By Jeorge Bird @ LV Bet Stadium Meadow Park
Arsenal U21s were knocked out of the Premier League International Cup with a hugely disappointing 7-2 defeat at home to PSV II tonight.
The young Gunners found themselves three goals down after just nine minutes, and, although they managed to reduce the deficit before half time with Joel Ideho and Matt Smith getting on the scoresheet, PSV inflicted further damage in the second half.
Arsenal fielded a rather cobbled together lineup, with the likes of Amario Cozier-Duberry, Reuell Walters and Lino Sousa unavailable after starting for the U18s in the FA Youth Cup last night.
However, it was still a very frustrating night and the ease with which PSV ran through the Arsenal team was very concerning.
First-team goalkeeper Karl Hein was called upon, while Josh Nichols made his first start at this level at right-back, with schoolboy Camron Ismail deployed at left-back.
George Lewis came into the side, with Charles Sagoe Jr starting up front.
A host of players who were involved with the U18s last night were on the bench, where they were joined by Salah-Eddine, who made his first appearance since August after returning from both injury and loan.
Subs: Salah-Eddine (for Bandeira, 46), Cottrell (for Cirjan, 46), Robinson (for Lewis, 67), Roberts (for Nichols, 67), Kacurri (for Awe, 82). Not used: Cooper, Kamara.
PSV subjected Arsenal to an onslaught from the outset, with the young Gunners not given any time to settle.
After a lengthy spell of possession which lasted several minutes, a PSV effort went just wide.
Shortly afterwards it was 1-0, with Mathijs Tielemans scoring with a fine strike.
Then came another goal, with Dante Sealy taking advantage with an effort that deflected in off Henry Jeffcott after Mauro Bandeira had lost the ball.
Arsenal barely had time to take stock of what had happened when Hein was picking the ball out of his net again, with Jason Van Duiven making it 3-0.
Hein had to make a save shortly afterwards and Arsenal then looked to change matters, with Lewis and Joel Ideho switching wings.
The tactic seemed to work, with Ideho eventually getting a goal back for Arsenal after winning the ball.
Ideho then turned provider for Nichols, who shot wide, but PSV were continuing to call Hein into action at the other end.
Arsenal were given hope just before half time, with a penalty being awarded after Sagoe Jr was fouled in the area. Smith stepped up to take it and scored.
Despite finishing with a flourish, it was still a rather disappointing first half performance from Arsenal, and coach Mehmet Ali reacted by making a double switch at the interval, with Salah-Eddine and Ben Cottrell coming on for Bandeira and Cirjan.
PSV continued to be in control of proceedings, however, with Hein having to make a stop after Zach Awe was put under pressure.
Cottrell tried his luck for Arsenal but PSV then made it 4-2 as Van Duiven got his second with the rebound after a free-kick had initially struck Lewis.
Lewis had a shot saved before PSV added a fifth through Mohamed Nassoh.
Arsenal introduced Josh Robinson and Mathaeus Roberts, with Maldini Kacurri later coming on for Awe.
Kacurri struggled to cope with PSV’s attack as the Dutch side added a sixth goal when subsitute August Priske scored.
Priske doubled his tally following a break downfield and then the final whistle sounded to put Arsenal out of their misery.
This was a chastening defeat and Arsenal’s defence was carved open all too easily.
The game wasn’t without its positives, with Ismail having some good moments, while Salah-Eddine’s return to action was a welcome sight.
It was a little concerning that some of the more experienced players at this level, such as Awe and Matt Smith, made several mistakes, while Nichols will have learned a lot from this game.
The decision to prioritise the Youth Cup was certainly the correct one, and Arsenal may still have exited this competition even if they had won, but conceding seven goals in a game can never be deemed acceptable.
It was evident that there was a lack of cohesion in the team, and it is no coincidence that the U21s have thrived in the league this season with a settled team.
Arsenal U21s are back in action away to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Monday, and it could well be a rather different starting lineup for that fixture.