By Lloyd Webb at London Colney
Tomas Rosicky stepped up his rehabilitation from injury as Arsenal Under-21s were held to a goalless draw by Swansea City on Friday. The Czech Republic international completed 45 minutes in torrential rain at London Colney as he continued his recovery from a long-term knee injury against a hardworking Swansea side.
Chris Willock had the best chance of a tightly-contested first half in Hertfordshire but his powerful strike rattled off the crossbar before half-time. The game followed a similar suit after the interval as the young Gunners continued to probe on the edge of the box, but struggled to break down a compact Swansea defence.
SETTING THE SCENE
Steve Gatting made five changes to the side that drew 1-1 at West Bromwich Albion almost two weeks ago. Rosicky was handed his first start in a competitive game for eight months, while Kris Da Graca replaced Krystian Bielik at centre back. Elsewhere, Donyell Malen started up front while under-18 regulars Josh Dasilva and Tolaji Bola were named on the bench.
Both sides struggled to get their usual passing games going as the rain poured down at Colney but, when Arsenal eventually found their rhythm, Rosicky led the charge.
After some neat interplay, the midfielder collected the ball on the edge of the box but sent his half-volley whistling just over the crossbar. Arsenal were beginning to get a foothold on the game but then Swansea threatened back when Matt Macey was forced into a routine save by Jay Fulton.
Willock had one final chance to break the deadlock moments before half-time when he cut inside from the left, but the winger crashed his strike off the crossbar from 18 yards.
As planned, Rosicky was withdrawn at half-time with a valuable 45 minutes under his belt and was replaced by Marcus McGuane for the teenager’s first taste of under-21s football this season.
Arsenal continued to dominate proceedings after the restart but were made to wait until the hour mark for their next chance, when Daniel Crowley’s free-kick forced Gregor Zabret into a smart save.
Swansea hit back again, though, and perhaps should have scored when Adam King collected on the edge of the box, but the midfielder dragged his strike wide.
However, the Gunners seized control of the game again and had one final chance to find a winner when Willock drifted inside from the left, but Zabret was equal to his effort at the end of a tough afternoon for Arsenal.
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