Good day all. Yesterday we saw yet more evidence of how talented our next generation of players is with a 6-0 win over fellow Londoners, Charlton Athletic. In a fixture organised with just a minute’s notice, the boys got their first run out at The Emirates since COVID-19 reared its ugly head.
The game was played very much like a classic year 10 v year 11 match on the school playground, with no fans in the stands and the officiating taken care of by the coaching staff. Of course the game was a friendly and, having watched the highlights on the club’s Youtube channel, it really did feel like one. Considering that all remaining games are to be played behind closed doors, it will be interesting to see if things are any different when the games start to mean something.
The scoring kicked off with an absolute belter of a half volley from Lacazette. David Luiz sent a long ball forward towards Maitland-Niles (remember him) who, using a combination of his head and shoulder, knocked the ball into the path of the Frenchman who smashed it past the Chalton keeper. Fingers crossed, we may see something of that sort against City in 10 days’ time.
In goal, Leno had his reactions tested with a smart header from old Arsenal academy player Chuks Aneke. Questions could be asked of how poorly Guendouzi attempted to prevent the cross but, it’s only a friendly.
Then it was Aubameyang’s turn to get in on the action. Ozil initially won the ball in the centre of midfield before Kieran Tierney slid the ball into the path of the Gabon international. One-on-one with the Charlton defender, he went to drive down the outside but then cut in and curled the ball into the far corner. He actually seemed to be slipping as he struck the ball which is perhaps why the defender seemed so perplexed when he turned to see it nestle in the back of the net.
The second half saw a huge number of changes as both clubs looked to give as many players as possible the run out they desperately need. It didn’t take long before the second half team got on the scoresheet. A free kick whipped in from the right side by Ceballos could have been converted by 3 or 4 Arsenal players but it was the youngster Eddie Nketiah who got his studs to it first. He almost got another soon after with a powerful header from a Pepe short corner but the keeper reacted well to save it.
He didn’t have long to wait to grab his second though. Through one-on-one from a Sokratis long ball, he had all the time in the world to pick his spot. It was a very collective finish from a man whose confidence must be through the roof right now. It was also a clear sign that the Championship side were struggling for fitness as the gaps began to grow larger and larger. That was further evident when Joe Willock had time in the Charlton box to spin and turn on the ball before picking out a completely unmarked Eddie Nketiah for his hat-trick.
The two connected again to finish the scoring off for the day as Nketiah cut the ball back for Joe Willock who side-footed the ball into the top corner. It was a really nice finish and something to hopefully boost his own confidence before league matches return.
Overall it was a pretty simple game for the boys as it probably should be against a struggling second-tier side. Very little can be taken away from games like these but with any luck, the players will continue to improve their fitness over the coming days, and go into the game against City as ready as they can be.
I believe there is another friendly game next week against a Championship side so we’ll wait to see how that goes. In the meantime it’s good to know that football is back even if it is very different from what we’ve come to know and love.
Header Photo: tomturneruk, 2008