By Rob Kelly at Underhill
Arsenal Reserves mirrored the first team by racking up their fifth league win on the spin with a convincing 3-0 victory against West Brom on Wednesday night.
Neil Banfield’s experienced side claimed the lead in the 17th minute through Ju Young Park, before Serge Gnabry converted from close range on the stroke of half time.
Chuks Aneke curled in a third just after the restart before missing a chance for the fourth of the night, while Carl Jenkinson also spurned a good opportunity.
But it made no difference as the Gunners maintained their superb recent run to make it 15 goals scored in five matches and none conceded.
Banfield named a strong side with a clutch of first-team members getting a run out for the second string on Underhill’s sloping pitch.
Andre Santos - who had been sidelined since December with an ankle injury sustained in the Champions League defeat to Olympiacos - was named at left back.
Elsewhere Jenkinson started on the other flank, while Johan Djourou partnered Ignasi Miquel at the heart of the defence.
Aneke and Gnabry, who both impressed in last week’s 2-0 victory at Chelsea, kept their places, while Marouane Chamakh and Park returned to reserve-team action up front.
West Brom meanwhile named just one member of the starting XI that beat the Gunners 3-1 at the Hawthorns in October - midfielder Liam O’Neil.
Arsenal kicked down the slope in the first half and were immediately into their stride as they pressed the visitors back for much of the opening period.
Gnabry was especially prominent in the early exchanges, demonstrating his potential with one lovely bit of skill to beat his man in the box, but his low cross was cut out.
Just as the game was settling down, Banfield’s side grabbed the lead as Oguzhan Ozyakup led a charge upfield, before playing it wide to Park on the right flank. The South Korean took a touch before cutting inside and blasting a left-footed shot into the far corner.
West Brom had half a chance to hit back immediately when a loose ball broke to O’Neil lurking outside the box, but his firm half volley was easily held by Damian Martinez.
In a half of few chances, the Gunners always looked the more likely to extend their lead, and both Park and Aneke came close in one flurry of activity in the 25th minute.
Arsenal were finding it hard to carve out opportunities for Chamakh, but on the stroke of half time Aneke sent him clear with a lovely through ball.
The Moroccan held off the covering defender but saw his shot blocked, and after a scramble in the area the ball dropped invitingly for Gnabry, who blasted in from close range.
Arsenal’s dominance continued after the interval, and they snatched a third goal in the 55th minute when Santos and Chamakh combined and laid the ball off for Aneke. There was still a lot of work to be done, but Aneke curled a lovely effort into the far corner from the edge of the box.
Banfield’s side were now completely in charge and Gnabry, Aneke and Jenkinson all went close in quick succession as the game opened up.
They could not add to their lead, but this was still another thoroughly satisfying night.
- Andre Santos 60
- Aneke Goal!
- Gnabry Goal!
- Chamakh 69
- Park 69 Goal!
- Meade 60
- Angha 69
- Afobe 69
West Brom Res
- Jack Rose
- Wesley Atkinson
- Donervorn Daniels
- Niall Wellington
- Aaron Birch 84
- Adil Nabi
- Liam O'Neil
- Cameron Gayle
- Alex Jones
- Jordan Tunnicliffe
- Tom Turton
- David Goldsmith 84
- Joel Ambalu
- Mark Hingley