By Mo Khan

Ashley Cole and Gael Clichy both played 90 minutes as Arsenal Reserves beat Coventry 4-0 in a game played behind-closed-doors at the Club's training ground on Wednesday afternoon.

The England left back has played only 60 minutes of first-team football since October 2 because of a stress fracture of the foot and an ankle injury. Ironically Clichy has been out since early November with the same sort of stress fracture.

Cole played left back for the first 45 minutes on Wednesday with the Frenchman in front on the wing. They swapped roles at half time.

Arsenal were ahead in the eighth minute when Nicklas Bendtner burst through the visitors' defence to break the deadlock. They doubled their lead in the 69th minute with the Dane's second.

And further goals late on by substitute Jay Simpson and midfielder Sebastian Larsson helped Neil Banfield's men avenge a 1-0 defeat at Coventry in their second fixture of the season.

England manager Sven Goran Eriksson and his assistant, Tord Grip were in attendance and watched from the touchline as they assessed the full back's fitness.

The game itself was played amid a calendar-defying wind-chill factor as the open pitch at London Colney exposed itself to the elements, but Arsenal and Bendtner in particular showed they could cope with the conditions.

The Gunners may have taken the lead as early as the sixth minute when Bendtner broke the offside trap to latch onto Anthony Stokes clever through ball. He rounded the keeper but lifted his shot over the crossbar.

But just two minutes later, the Dane made no mistake when one-on-one with the Coventry goalkeeper as he slipped the ball neatly under his body to put Arsenal in front.
      
Bendtner was clearly in the mood and after 12 minutes, the former Copenhagen star nearly doubled his tally for the afternoon. Collecting the ball 25 yards from goal, Bendtner shifted the ball onto his favoured right foot and unleashed a cannonball of a shot which thundered against the post and flew wide.

But Coventry were not going to lie down and their skipper, K Thornton crossed invitingly from the left but no-one was on hand to convert.

The second-half followed the same pattern as the first with Arsenal enjoying the lion's share of possession without creating many clear-cut goalscoring opportunities. However they did double their advantage eventually as Bendtner collected Larsson's pass on the right of the penalty area, cut inside his man and drove a left-foot shot into the bottom corner.

The Dane's efforts were acknowledged with a thumbs-up from the watching Banfield as he tormented the visitors with his powerful, bustling and deceptively pacy style.

The Gunners then threw on Simpson and Mark Randall in place of Giorgos Efrem and Anthony Stokes and with four minutes to go, they scored a third. Bendtner was the architect this time as his turn and cross on the right left Simpson with an easy tap-in at the far post.

Two minutes later, Larsson won the ball in midfield, burst past two defenders and hit an early, rising shot into the top corner.

Cole and Clichy showed no ill-effects from their 90-minute endeavours to complete a positive afternoon for not only Banfield's outfit and Arsène Wenger's first team, but also the watching Eriksson. 

 

Nicklas Bendtner takes on the 'keeper

Nicklas Bendtner takes on the 'keeper

Connolly slides in

Connolly slides in

 

Ashley Cole returns to action

Ashley Cole returns to action

Gael Clichy gets back to work

Gael Clichy gets back to work

Arsenal U21

1
Poom
2
Gilbert
3
Clichy
4
Cole
5
Connolly
6
O'Cearuill
7
Larsson Goal!
8
Efrem 60
9
Muamba 80
10
Bendtner Goal! Goal!
11
Stokes 70

Substitutes

12
Mannone
13
Simpson 70 Goal!
14
Kelly
15
Randall 60
16
Tracy 80
Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 19 Apr 2006