By Chris Harris
It's been one year, seven months and 25 days since Fran Merida scored a Reserve League goal. But when it came, it was worth the wait.
The Spanish midfielder flighted a delightful chip over Dean Kiely to give Arsenal the lead at the Hawthorns on Wednesday night. West Brom hit back to earn a 1-1 draw but Merida's strike will live long in the memory.
It was his first since an equally brilliant free-kick against Tottenham in September 2007 and it capped a pretty good week for the 19-year-old, who made his second Premier League appearance as a substitute in Saturday's 3-0 win at Portsmouth.
"I made the run and Jay [Emmanuel-Thomas] saw me and gave me a great ball. I just saw the chip so I tried it and it went in after nearly two years without scoring a goal," Merida told Arsenal.com.
"Of course, attacking midfielders have to score goals and this season I haven’t scored until now so I am very happy. In training I normally try to make those runs and it has worked out in the game.
"Obviously I have to take the positives from this season," he added. "I have been involved in the Carling Cup and in the League so that’s great. In the Reserves we’ve been a bit inconsistent and we haven’t had a good run of wins but we’re still very young so we have to be happy with the positives.
"And coming on at Portsmouth was a great experience. Every time you get the chance with the first team it is something special. For me it was a great 12 minutes and I tried to do my best and show the boss what I can do."
Merida is part of a growing Spanish contingent at Emirates Stadium. We know all about Cesc Fabregas but another of Merida's compatriots is making a big splash in the youth ranks - Ignasi Miquel. The 16-year-old central defender has been fast-tracked into the Under-18 team and made an impressive Reserve team debut at the Hawthorns.
"Ignasi is a young lad from Spain," said Merida. "I remember when I made my debut and how I felt so I’m so pleased for him. He is doing very well, he’s happy in London so I am happy for him there as well.
"I try to help him, I see him every day in training but even at 16 he’s older in his mind. He has settled very well in London."Copyright 2017 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