Report- Tella impresses but Arsenal XI are thrashed by Boreham Wood

Pre-season friendly

Boreham Wood 3 Arsenal 0

By Jeorge Bird @ Meadow Park


An Arsenal U21 side that was deprived of many key players suffered a disappointing 3-0 defeat in a friendly against Boreham Wood today.

The young Gunners lacked cohesion and fell behind in the first-half before the hosts inflicted further punishment after the interval.

There were some plus points for Arsenal, with Donyell Malen catching the eye up front and substitutes Jordi Osei-Tutu and Nathan Tella impressing, but overall this was a hugely frustrating afternoon against a well-organised Boreham Wood side.

Krystian Bielik, Chris Willock, Stephy Mavididi, Matt Macey, Marcus McGuane, Gedion Zelalem, Reiss Nelson and Chiori Johnson have been training with the first-team during pre-season and they were all absent today, along with Kaylen Hinds, Ben Sheaf and Marc Bola.

As a consequence, Arsenal fielded a youthful and unbalanced line-up, with 16-year-old Joao Virginia starting in goal, Aaron Eyoma and Kostas Pileas deployed as full-backs and Savvas Mourgos and Joshua DaSilva fielded as wingers.


Eyoma-Da Graca-Pleguezuelo-Pileas


Mourgos-Malen- DaSilva


Subs: Robinson (for DaSilva, 62), Dragomir (for Nketiah, 64), Osei-Tutu (for Eyoma, 75), Tella (for Mourgos, 75). Not used: Keto, T. Bola, Smith-Rowe. 

The system certainly didn’t work, with Arsenal struggling to muster any sort of attacking momentum for much of the game. The ball frequently went out of play, passes went astray and tackles were mis-timed, although such occurrences are perhaps to be expected at this early stage of pre-season.

Neither side managed to create much in the early exchanges, although Arsenal did come close to carving out an opening when Malen, playing in the number ten position, prodded the ball forward, but Edward Nketiah couldn’t reach it.

It was Boreham Wood, however, who would take the lead, with Joe Devera alert to head the ball beyond the reach of the stranded Virginia.

Conceding the goal did at least wake Arsenal from their slumber a little as they started to become slightly more composed on the ball. Ismael Bennacer, who impressed in his first season at the club, did well to regain possession and found Mourgos, who saw his attempt saved.

Arsenal’s attacking forays were sporadic, with Boreham Wood proving well organised for the most part. Nketiah, who scored in the friendly against Bournemouth last week, appeared Arsenal’s most likely source of a goal when opportunities did arrive, but he spurned two chances to find the net before the break.

Coach Steve Gatting opted against making any alterations at the interval, and the same pattern of play continued, with Boreham Wood dominating proceedings.

Virginia had to be alert to claim well from a free-kick, and then Gatting gradually started to ring the changes, with Tyrell Robinson and Vlad Dragomir entering the fray.

Those switches saw Malen moved up front following Nketiah’s withdrawal, and the Dutchman seemed far more suited to leading the line, as demonstrated by a memorable incident in which he turned astutely before forcing a good save from Sam Beasant.

Substitutes Jordi Osei-Tutu and Nathan Tella, who forged an encouraging partnership down the right flank, appeared lively and took the game to the opposition.

However, any hope that Arsenal had of securing a draw was eradicated as Boreham Wood doubled their advantage when Shaun Jeffers capitalised upon some dismal defending to slot home.

Worse was still to come for Arsenal, with Virginia and Pileas committing terrible errors in the build-up to a penalty being awarded, with Kenny Davis slotting home the spot-kick in what was the last meaningful action of the game.

This was a very disappointing performance, but perhaps the outcome wasn’t all that surprising given that such a large amount of players were missing.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of the game was the performances of the two most experienced members of the side- Julio Pleguezuelo and Glen Kamara- who both struggled, with the latter appearing disinterested at times.

Neither player has trained with the first-team this summer, and they are both in need of loan spells to enhance their development.

It should also be taken into consideration that some of the players involved today featured in a friendly against Bayern Munich in Germany just two days ago, which may have contributed to their fatigue levels.

Furthermore, several of the players that started today can’t be considered to be amongst Arsenal’s best prospects, particularly with regards to the defenders.

Hopefully matters will improve from here, with Arsenal seeking to retain the Durban International Cup in South Africa.


Arsenal midfielder Charlie Gilmour signs professional contract


Arsenal midfielder Charlie Gilmour has signed his first professional contract with the club.

Gilmour, who progressed through Arsenal’s Hale End academy system to sign scholarship terms last summer, has represented both England and Scotland at youth level.

A neat passer of the ball, Gilmour featured prominently for Arsenal U18s last season but is yet to make the step up to the U21 team. He is currently out injured.

Gilmour’s progression to professional terms leaves Nathan Tella, Kostas Pileas, Edward Nketiah and Joe Willock as the club’s remaining second-year scholars.

Tella strikes as Arsenal U18s are beaten by Bayern Munich 

Nathan Tella found the net but it wasn’t enough as Arsenal U18s were beaten 2-1 by their Bayern Munich counterparts in a friendly in Germany today. 
Several of the club’s new first-year scholars were given run-outs, whilst there were also some slightly more experienced players on show, with Edward Nketiah, Tolaji Bola, Vlad Dragomir and Jordi Osei-Tutu all featuring. 

Arsenal team: Goalkeeper; Osei-Tutu, Omole, Olowu, T. Bola; Benson, Dragomir; Smith-Rowe, J. Willock, Tella; Nketiah. 

Toral’s Granada loan confirmed- but does he have a future at Arsenal?



La Liga side Granada have confirmed the signing of Arsenal midfielder Jon Toral on a season-long loan, with the 21-year-old being dispatched on temporary transfer for the third campaign in succession.

After impressing for both Birmingham City and Brentford, it was anticipated that, at the very least, Toral would receive some run-outs for the Arsenal first-team this season.

As it has transpired, however, the prospect has been sent on loan to Granada without even having attended a single senior training session with the Gunners this summer.

Toral will undoubtedly benefit greatly from his time at Granada, with the experience of playing against Real Madrid and his former club Barcelona certainly set to be highlights of his time back in Spain.

As far as his Arsenal chances are concerned, however, this move gives more questions than answers about whether Toral will eventually make the grade at the club.

Whereas Hector Bellerin, who joined the Gunners from Barcelona at the same time, is now firmly established as Arsenal’s first-choice right-back after a single and moderately successful loan spell, Toral has had to bide his time in the Championship and will now spend another year away from the club.

With Dan Crowley’s progression to the first-team not as inevitable as it perhaps once was, there could still be an opening for Toral in the long term, and his ability to operate effectively out wide as well as centrally helps his cause greatly.

However, it does seem rather strange that Arsene Wenger didn’t consider Toral for a place in the squad this season, particularly following the departure of Tomas Rosicky.

Toral will be 22 by the time he returns to Arsenal next year, and, one thing is for certain, a concrete decision on whether or not to give him an opportunity in the first-team will have to be made then.

Arsenal’s Tafari Moore on trial at Utrecht ahead of possible loan move

Arsenal right-back Tafari Moore is on trial at Dutch top flight team Utrecht ahead of a possible loan move. 

Moore featured for the Eredivisie side today as he looks to secure a move that would be hugely beneficial for his development. 

The defender, who withdrew from the England squad for the U19 European Championships at short notice, featured for Arsenal in an U21 friendly against Bournemouth last weekend. 

Moore, who has struggled with injuries in recent years, has amassed considerable experience of youth football since signing scholarship terms in 2013, but he is yet to play a competitive game for Arsenal. 

If he does end up joining Utrecht then he will link up with another Arsenal academy graduate in Nacer Barazite. 

Zelalem amongst several youngsters to train with Arsenal first-team


Arsenal’s pre-season preparations continued apace today, with a small group of youngsters continuing to train with the first-team.

Gedion Zelalem, Chris Willock, Krystian Bielik, Reiss Nelson, Marcus McGuane and Stephy Mavididi all trained with the senior squad, with this quintet hopeful of featuring in the upcoming pre-season friendly against Lens.

As far as first-team players are concerned, Joel Campbell is expected to join the group soon, whilst it is hoped that Santi Cazorla will be able to commence full training in the near future.


Hard-working Hayden leaves Arsenal at the right time


It is always a wrench when a long-serving youngster leaves the club, but, in the case of Isaac Hayden, the signs had been apparent for some time.

The prospect, 21, has signed for Championship side Newcastle United on a five-year deal and will surely benefit from stepping up to senior football on a regular basis.

A player who was highly thought of by manager Arsene Wenger, Hayden made two competitive appearances for the Arsenal first-team, both of which came in the Capital One Cup, while he also featured in several friendly fixtures.

For the past couple of years, however, it has been apparent that Hayden wasn’t going to succeed in the long-term at Arsenal, with the arrival of Krystian Bielik pushing him further down the pecking order in both defence and midfield.

Hayden joined Arsenal as a schoolboy in 2008 and went on to sign scholarship terms three years later. Efficient at breaking up play, he is occasionally guilty of making rash challenges.

After impressing for the U18s under the guidance of Steve Bould, Hayden proceeded to become a prominent player for Arsenal at U21 level and also featured heavily in the UEFA Youth League.

First-team recognition soon followed and he was eventually sent out on loan to Hull City, where he showed glimpses of his potential even though he wasn’t able to command a regular place in the side.

Now Hayden has left Arsenal on a permanent basis and hopefully he will be able to succeed in the next chapter of his career.