London ball

Arsenal summer signing hits 20g a year after U23 North London derby

Hubert Graczyk plays for Arsenal U23s (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Instagram)

Arsenal saw a handful of players return from injury against Spurs on Friday, with Mika Biereth up front, Mazeed Ogungbo at centre-back and James Olayinka in midfield.

Biereth and Ogungbo are key players in the current squad, and Olayinka’s return was particularly important in the absence of suspended Salah-Eddine Oulad M’hand, so it was good news for Arsenal.

On the other hand, Zak Swanson and Zach Awe were both missing, presumably as they continue on the senior team, and Charlie Patino is injured.

Match report

Within 16 minutes, Arsenal scored the game’s first goal. Jack Henry-Francis made a committed tackle in midfield that pushed Beereth through on goal.

Beereth generously squared Marcelo Flores to tap into an empty net.

Shortly after, Arsenal doubled their lead, although there is some debate over who scored.

After Arsenal again won the ball high up the pitch, Omari Hutchinson played Flores behind. Flores drove a low cross into the six-yard area, where Spurs defender Tobi Omole appeared to turn it into his own net.

But Beereth was nearby and currently has the official credit for the goal, and replays are inconclusive – he may well have hit it.

Whoever scored, Arsenal briefly had a two-goal lead, until Spurs’ Alfie Devine pulled one back in the 32nd minute. The Gunners defense fell back too far and Devine took advantage.

After that, the focus shifted to goalkeeper Hubert Graczyk to keep Arsenal ahead. He made a key save from Dane Scarlett before half-time and a number of other saves after the break.

Centre-back Alex Kirk also had to be alert to clear a Scarlett shot off the line at one point.

On the other side, Hutchinson, Flores and Beereth continued to cause problems throughout, failing to add a third goal.

The threat they posed eventually paid off, as Hutchinson played a ball around the corner to put Beereth behind. As Beereth tried to run free, he was dragged down by Matthew Craig, who received a second yellow and was fired.

It made the job even harder for Spurs, who couldn’t break down a stubborn Arsenal defense in the final minutes.

Final Thoughts

Mika Biereth celebrates a goal with Marcelo Flores (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Instagram)
Mika Biereth celebrates a goal with Marcelo Flores (Photo via Arsenal Academy on Instagram)

In terms of the table, Arsenal are now seven points behind league leaders Manchester City with five games remaining.

The young Gunners still have City to play at home, and they would need a win in this game to have a chance, but it’s still a long way off at the moment.

Assuming the second goal credit remains with Beereth, he is now on 20 direct goal contributions for the season, his first campaign with Arsenal and his first at u23 level. It’s a great comeback and very representative of his strong performance.

Likewise, it’s another goal and assist for Flores, who has six goals and assists for the u21/23 and another 12 for the u18. He has had a real impact since his arrival.

Graczyk also deserves praise for his performance in the win, making key saves. The 19-year-old is a very good shooter, and he should definitely try his luck while Karl Hein and Arthur Okonkwo are on loan and with the first team.

Arsenal U23 line-up vs Spurs

Graczyk, Lopez, Walters, Ogungbo, Kirk, Azeez, Henry-Francis, Olayinka, Flores, Beereth, Hutchinson

Substitutes

Hillson, Sousa, Ibrahim (for Olayinka, 75), Butler-Oyedeji (for Flores, 90+3), Ideho (for Hutchinson, 90+3)

And after?

Arsenal’s U23s are then involved in the Premier League Cup round of 16, traveling in Middlesbrough Wednesday, March 9 at 6:00 p.m. GMT.

Kevin Betsy’s side will not play another Premier League 2 game until they face Blackburn Rovers at home on Monday March 14 at 7:00 p.m.

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