Arsenal Under-18s lost 3-0 against an experienced Chelsea side at Cobham on Friday.
Dominic Solake, who made his first-team debut in October, netted either side of Tammy Abraham’s strike as the Blues took all three points from the Premier Academy League clash.
As the under-21s had a break in fixtures, Frans de Kat attempted to match the maturity of Joe Edwards’ side by making 10 changes to the side that lost 2-0 against West Brom last month.
In came recent first-team squad members Ryan Huddart and Gedion Zelalem, while under-21 regulars Tafari Moore, Stefan O’Connor, Marc Bola, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Daniel Crowley were also included alongside Julio Pleguezuelo, Chris Willock and Stephy Mavididi.
Despite their increased experience, the young Gunners failed to get the basics right from the start. Maitland-Niles’ pass went astray as Arsenal tried to play out from the back and eventually fell to Solanke, who coolly sotted home.
Chelsea doubled their lead soon after. Charlie Colkett burst through the middle and fed Abraham, who drilled it under Huddart’s body.
Arsenal had the chance to pull one back before half-time but, when Aaron Eyoma was found free in the box by Mavididi after good work from Willock and Crowley, the forward placed his finish the wrong side of the post.
The Gunners seemed to come to life after the break. Crowley collected on the edge of the box and stung Bradley Collins’ palms with a vicious strike.
Isaiah Brown went close for the home side soon after, powering a drive similar to Crowley’s towards the goal, and the Chelsea youngster saw the same result as Huddart beat it to safety.
Charly Musonda then had the best chance to secure the win. The tricky forward darted through the middle to set up Solanke six yards out who returned the pass, but somehow Musonda diverted wide with the goal gaping in front of him.
Chelsea soon had their third, though, when Ola Aina found Kasey Palmer who crossed for Solanke to calmly place past Huddart.
The home side continued to look for goals to increase their dominance at the top of the league but Fikayo Tomori volleyed over from close range after his initial effort was blocked.
Arsenal had one final chance to salvage some pride when Willock looped his shot over Collins but it crept just wide of the post.
“This was a lesson at football,” De Kat said. “Today we did not start aggressively enough and we knew they had a good squad. If you do not do that then they can play around you, which meant they could get into their rhythm and we couldn’t break it.
“We have to start better than we did today. We have to show the passion and the desire to win the game rather than waiting so that we cannot come into the game ourselves. We need to change that before Borussia Dortmund.”
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