by Andrew Crawshaw
This wasn’t a game I was able to get to so this report is second-hand, thanks to Arsenal.com and Jeorge Bird
Arsenal playing a 4-2-3-1 formation
- GK Keto
- Defence Johnson – Bielik – M Bola – Robinson
- Midfield Base Sheaf – Bennacer
- Advanced Midfield – Reine-Adelaide – Hinds – C Willock
- CF Mavididi
Subs Virginia (GK), Da Graca (for Johnson 77), Nelson (for Willock 77), McGuane and Malen
GK Grimshaw, Buckley-Ricketts, oliver, Diaz, Douhaney, Kongolo, Humphreys-Grant, Davenport, Nmecha, Adarabioyo
Subs – Haug, Fernandes, Wood, Sancho, Dele-Bashiru (for Diaz 85)
City staged a pre-match fireworks show which seemed to fire the Gunners more than their own players as Jeff Reine-Adelaide scored in the fourth minute and Hinds was unlucky five minutes later when Hinds saw a shot coming back off the woodwork.
After that breakneck start for the young Gunners, the game calmed down a bit and City gained a foothold, Nemane in particular causing our youngsters problems. City had the ball in the net but it was ruled offside. Reine-Adelaide then nearly made it two when his effort hit the top of the crossbar.
In the 25th minute City equalised with Nmecha bursting forward and sending a powerful shot into the top corner that Keto had no chance of stopping. At this point City were dominant and Nmecha nearly made it two. Keto showed his class with a number of good saves to keep the scores level but was unable to do anything about Buckley-Ricketts effort in the 39th minute two – one to City.
City continued their dominance into the second half with Johnson making a goal line clearance to prevent another City goal. Arsenal’s best chance coming in the 56th minute but Mavididi put his shot against the outside of the post.
City had another great chance to make it three with Nmecha’s shot being blocked wide after Keto had done well to save from Nemane.
Arsenal made two substitutions with Da Graca and Nelson coming on for Johnson and Willock but they were unable to make the difference on the day.
Both teams had players booked for dives in the closing stages, Hinds for Arsenal and Dele-Bashiru.
In the end a good game with plenty for both teams to be positive about and all to play for in the second leg at the Emirates. Our away goal carries no significance as the rules of this competition just count it as a goal. We need to win at the Emirates by one goal for extra time and potential penalties or by two goals for victory in 90 minutes.
The match highlights are not yet available on Arsenal Player, but look out for them in the next day or two.
The second leg is at The Emirates Stadium on Mon 4 April with a kick-off time of 19:45. It will also be shown on UK Television Channel 4. Tickets free to all Arsenal Members (red level or higher) until 11:00 on Wed 23 March and thereafter on general sale at £4 (adults) and £2 (concessions) so absolutely no excuses for all Arsenal fans not to watch either at the ground or on TV. Seating is unreserved within the lower tier of the stadium.
No tickets will be available on the gate, get them in advance.
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