By Giuseppe Muro
Arsenal Reserves came from behind to draw 1-1 with Manchester City on Tuesday night thanks to Jay Emmanuel-Thomas’ spectacular second-half strike.
The draw means the Gunners remain unbeaten in the Premier Reserve League after making the long trip north to face a talented young City side.
After falling behind to an early strike, Neil Banfield’s team showed great spirit to battle back and earn a point on a wet and windy night in Manchester.
Manager Banfield went into the game with a much more youthful-looking squad compared to last week’s 4-3 win over Blackburn. Sebastien Squillaci, Denilson and Lukasz Fabianski returned to first-team duties though Johan Djourou remained at centre-half.
Wojciech Szczesny returned to the side, as did Cedric Evina, Mark Randall and Craig Eastmond. Gavin Hoyte started at right-back and Ignasi Miquel captained the team.
Manchester City’s side didn’t include any multi-million pound players in a similarly youthful line-up to that of Arsenal’s.
As the rain started pouring down in Manchester, Arsenal twice went close to taking the lead in the first 10 minutes. First a Roarie Deacon shot and then a dangerous cross from Emmanuel-Thomas created chances for the Gunners.
Manchester City then went in front after 11 minutes through John Guidetti. Kelvin Etuhu found space in midfield before playing a cutting through-ball which found the on-rushing Guidetti who beat the sliding Miquel to the ball. The striker composed himself and calmly side-footed the ball past Szczesny via the left-hand post to put his side in front.
City then had a good chance to double their lead after 26 minutes. Neat link-up play from Donal McDermott and Chris Chantler got the ball to Etuhu on the edge of the area but the midfielder fired into a sea of bodies.
As half-time approached Arsenal started to increase the pressure on the City goal and eight minutes from the break Craig Eastmond hit the post. Chuks Aneke dug out a cross for Eastmond who struck his shot against the right-hand post. The ball was in the air for what seemed like an eternity as the midfielder watched it onto his boot but the Gunners went in 1-0 down at the break.
Four minutes into the second half it was City’s turn to hit the post. Ibrahim had time on the edge of the area and cannoned a shot past a motionless Szczesny and onto the left-hand post.
Arsenal got back on level terms after 63 minutes when Emmanuel-Thomas scored his fourth goal in three games. Benik Afobe held the ball up well to the edge of the penalty area before laying the ball back to the striker. Emmanuel-Thomas took one touch before curling a wonderful shot into the top corner past the outstretched Gonzalez to make it 1-1.
Both sides then pushed for the winner in the last 25 minutes and Arsenal came so close to grabbing all three points through a header from Afobe three minutes from time. The striker looked certain to score as he found himself with a free header two yards from goal but goalkeeper David Gonzalez somehow managed to get fingertips to the ball when it seemed to be past him.
- Evina Yellow Card
- Randall Yellow Card
- Aneke (C) 76
- Emmanuel-Thomas Goal! Yellow Card
- Deacon 58
- Ozyakup 76
- Murphy 58
Man City Res
- Guidetti 55 Goal!
- Ellabdellaoui 55