By Nik Brumsack at Underhill
Arsenal Under-21s maintained their 100 per cent start to the season with victory over Everton at Underhill on Monday night.
A penalty in each half by Sanchez Watt and a late strike by Kyle Ebecilio proved enough for Terry Burton’s young side.
Arsenal were good value for their win, turning in an impressive second-half display under the watchful eye of Arsene Wenger.
Burton made three changes from the team that beat Blackburn last time out at Emirates Stadium.
With Chuba Akpom and Conor Henderson away on international duty, there were starts for Elton Monteiro and Nico Yennaris. Elsewhere, Hector Bellerin replaced Daniel Boateng, now on loan at League Two outfit Oxford United.
Forward Magaye Gueye was included in the Everton line up, after being named on the bench in the first team’s 2-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.
The game started quietly, with Arsenal largely controlling possession in the Everton half but unable to create any real opportunities.
In fact, the game’s first real chance came just after the half-hour mark.
Jernade Meade was seemingly clattered in the area as he went up for a header. However, to the winger’s disbelief, the referee gave a free kick just outside the box. Chuks Aneke stepped up and curled his effort over the wall and just off target, with Everton goalkeeper Mateusz Taudul beaten.
Martin Angha then fired wide from outside the area, before Aneke struck another free kick into the wall.
Arsenal were starting to create more and were rewarded on the stroke of half time.
Neat interplay between Craig Eastmond and Yennaris saw the latter play a fine pass to the onrushing Meade. After continuing into the box, Meade was tackled from behind by Everton right back Tyias Browning and the referee pointed to the spot.
Watt stepped up and confidently converted to send the home side into the break a goal to the good.
Attacking down the slope in the second half, Arsenal started brightly and almost doubled their lead in the 48th minute.
After Aneke had sprayed a delightful crossfield pass into his path, Meade cut in from the left before curling an effort against the post.
The Gunners were beginning to dominate, and again went close to finding a second goal after 52 minutes.
Embarking on a mazy run, Bellerin skipped forward before passing to Watt. The striker’s effort was goalbound, but well kept out by the legs of the goalkeeper.
The chances kept coming, and after Eastmond’s pass found Meade in space, his deflected effort went agonisingly wide. Then, after the resulting corner had caused havoc, Thomas Eisfeld’s shot forced Taudul to parry the ball to safety.
Arsenal were playing some lovely football, passing and moving at will, with Meade a central figure in the home side’s good work.
But despite being well on top, Burton’s side nearly lost their lead midway through the second half.
After Luke Garbutt’s cross was not properly cleared, only a good save from James Shea prevented George Green’s low shot from finding the net.
Arsenal were given the chance to make the game safe with five minutes to go when, after pressuring the goalkeeper, Meade’s persistence saw him fouled in the area, leaving the referee with no choice but to point to the spot.
Watt stepped up and scored as Arsenal finally got the goal their second-half performance had deserved.
And more was to come in stoppage time.
A fine passing move ended with Ebecilio caressing the ball past the goalkeeper to put the gloss on yet another comfortable win.
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