By Tony Attwood
Arsenal under 23s went two down to Derby County, and then came back to win 3-2. That’s rather gratifying but the basic fact hides a few other interesting details.
For a start, Nelson scored two – carrying on where he left off last season when he scored in the home draw with Manchester United back in May.
Reiss Nelson scored his first volleying home from close range. His second came just five minutes later and was, according to Arsenal.com “an impressive solo goal, curling into the far side of goal via the post”.
Eddie Nketiah the centre forward, provided the winning strike just 10 minutes from the final whistle.
Not only was the result pleasing, it also gave us some insights. First the system being used by the under 23s mimics that of the first team, as you might expect with three at the back.
Second Matt Macey did not play but in goal, but Ryan Huddart did, which means… well I don’t know. We still don’t know who the third keeper is, but it looks like Macey with Huddart as the fourth keeper.
Of the names that we know, Maitland-Niles, Cohen Bramall and Krystian Bielik played as the back three. Reiss Nelson was the goal scoring wing back, Kieran Gibbs was the other, strutting his stuff to any passing scouts.
Francis Coquelin partnered Jack Wilshere in central midfield, which suggests both are close to match fitness.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Joe Willock played in advanced roles confirming that Jeff is back, and presumably will be given a first team squad number soonish.
Nketiah was the centre forward.
So if we have the goalkeepers sorted out at least for the moment, we’ve got Bramall as the defender who might get more exposure. But we had no sign of Zelalem still.
The rules of the under 23 competition are that three over age players can play in each match. Arsenal will play some games at the Emirates (for example the match on 21 August against Manchester City) and some at Meadow Park. Under 18 games will be played at the training centre.
The league will take on the same format of two tiers, Division 1 and Division 2, with 12 teams in each, and the factor of promotion and relegation.
The 24 clubs who compete in the League each applied for ‘Category One’ status in the Elite Player Performance Plan. There are 15 clubs from the Premier League and nine clubs from the Championship.
All players born after 1 January 1993 for the 2016/17 season are eligible to play, and the format stays the same as before with the bottom two teams in Division 1 getting relegated to Division 2
In Division 2, the league winners get automatic promotion to Division 1 and then the next four teams go into a promotion play off, with the games played at the club’s main stadium. There is no relegation from Division 2.
Each club must host at least three league matches at their main stadium during the course of the season. Member clubs’ training grounds or Academy venues will be permitted for the staging of up to three home matches over the course of the league season.
Last season Arsenal finished runners’ up in Division 2.
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