By Nick Teale
Arsenal Reserves got their 2010/11 campaign underway with a dominant 5-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers on Wednesday evening.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas got the opener with a curling left-footed strike from the edge of the area at the end of the first half. Nacer Barazite added a second just past the hour mark and Chuks Aneke got in on the act with a brace in the final 20 minutes. Emmanuel-Thomas added a fifth on the turn in stoppage time.
For much of the first half the match was balanced but after the break the Gunners, with their one-goal lead, took the game to Bolton, The Trotters, under the watchful eye of first-team manager Owen Coyle, failed to create many chances worthy of note.
It was a fantastic way for the Gunners to get their new season up and running and for the likes of Aneke to show they are ready to become Reserve team regulars.
Manager Neil Banfield named a strong side for the trip to Lancashire. Vito Mannone was in goal and Gavin Hoyte partnered captain Ignasi Miquel at centre back. Havard Nordtveit and Thomas Cruise were the full backs.
The midfield three was made up of Aneke, Craig Eastmond and Mark Randall. Barazite, who recently completed a trial at Rangers, joined Benik Afobe and Emmanuel-Thomas in attack.
The early stages did not suggest a goal-fest was coming.
Tamir Cohen picked out Danny Ward to create danger in the opening minute, but the left midfielder didn't get a complete connection on his cross.
Barazite dragged wide at the near post for Arsenal and Aneke went close with a drilled effort from 20 yards. The midfielder produced an almost identical shot in the 20th minute but at that point neither side had managed a shot on target.
Barazite, who was enjoying some space on the left, tried another low shot midway through the half after linking up with Emmanuel-Thomas but it was another that narrowly missed the target for the Gunners.
Six minutes before the break Mannone produced a good save to deny Michael O'Halloran. The midfielder had been slipped through on goal by Ward but the Italian stopper denied the Bolton man at his near post.
Three minutes later Arsenal broke the deadlock. Emmanuel-Thomas collected the ball on the right corner of the area, looked up and sent a curling left-footed effort beyond the keeper. It was a great way to get off the mark for the season.
The Gunners second came 18 minutes after the break.
The second half had started slowly, but Banfield's side produced a fine move down the left to double their lead.
Barazite charged forward, and as Emmanuel-Thomas held things up the Dutchman raced into the box, collected the ball and nestled the ball into the far corner of the net.
Arsenal didn't look back. They dominated the final half hour of the game and Bolton tired from chasing the ball.
Emmanuel-Thomas rustled the side netting after surging into the area and with 20 minutes remaining helped Aneke get his first.
The midfielder played a one-two with the lively forward but had his initial shot saved by Lainton. But the rebound fell to Aneke's feet, and the Englishman tapped in with ease.
Despite a double Arsenal substitution and an injury to Randall briefly slowing down proceedings, the Gunners' momentum didn't diminish.
With nine minutes remaining Aneke got his second.
It was another attack built on the left side and the midfielder, from the edge of the area, bent his shot into the bottom corner. Arsenal were enjoying the night, but it would get even better.
As the fourth official signalled two minutes of stoppage time, the Gunners marched forward again. Emmanuel-Thomas received the ball on the penalty spot and, shooting on the turn, didn’t allow Lainton the time or reach to get close to it.
Convincing and dominant in the second half, Arsenal's Reserve League season was off to a flier.
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