Post-Match Report

U-21s: Blackburn 1-0 Arsenal Report

Arsenal Under-21s' new defensive partnership

Blackburn Rovers U23 -

Leigh Sports Village
Barclays U21 Premier League
Barclays U21 Premier League
  Blackburn Rovers U23
      
              0 (38)
          
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Blackburn Rovers U23
0 (38)
1 0
  Arsenal U23
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Arsenal U23

 By Lloyd Webb at Leigh Sports Village

Summary

Arsenal were edged out 1-0 by a resilient Blackburn side on Friday courtesy of Sam Lavelle’s header. The first half ended with the hosts taking a slender lead thanks to their captain’s cushioned nod into the bottom corner. Arsenal created chances throughout the match, but ultimately left a rainy Leigh Sports Village empty-handed.

Setting the scene

Steve Gatting made four changes to his side following their defeat at Aston Villa in March. Serge Gnabry stepped up his return to match fitness on the wing, while Kostas Pileas and Josh Dasilva made their debuts for the under-21s. Ben Sheaf was paired with Marcus McGuane in midfield and Krystian Bielik returned to central defence.

First half

The Gunners dominated possession during the opening exchanges, and looked impressive with their slick passing in the light drizzle. It took until the 17th minute before a shot was registered from either side, and even then it was an ambitious effort from Willem Tomlinson outside the box. Their monopolisation of the ball almost rewarded the visitors moments later, but Donyell Malen could only fire over the bar after beating the offside trap. Lavelle gave the hosts the advantage against the run of play when he escaped his marker and headed home seven minutes before the break. Arsenal finished the half the stronger side however, Gnabry and Dan Crowley both going close having produced fine solo runs.

Second half

The Gunners didn’t start the second half on the same foot, Jason Lowe and Anton Forrester letting the visitors off with early warnings. A series of low crosses exposed the hosts’ shakiness in defence shortly after, but Malen and Crowley couldn’t capitalise. Blackburn immediately hit Arsenal on the counter, and following a defensive mix-up, Forrester was handed an opportunity he could not take. The Gunners continued to probe, and debutant Eddie Nketiah’s introduction created concern for the hosts, but Gatting’s side ultimately left Blackburn empty-handed.

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