By Ben Hooke at Hotspur Way
Mathieu Debuchy and Stephy Mavididi grabbed a goal each as the under-23s beat north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Friday.
The French defender was playing his first competitive football of the campaign, and crashed home the opener on 65 minutes with a volley at the far post.
Charlie Owens was sent off for the home side before Mavididi struck from the spot late on to seal all three points for Steve Gatting’s men.
SETTING THE SCENE
It was a big match for the Gunners on their return to action, a fortnight after their last match - a 4-0 dismantling of Sunderland at Meadow Park.
Mavididi and Chris Willock made the starting XI after their appearances for the England Under-19s, with the former bagging the opener in the Three Lions’ win over Luxembourg.
We started the brighter of the two sides, pressing high and forcing Tottenham into mistakes. Marc Bola drove down the left-hand side two minutes in but his drilled cross just evaded Mavididi’s outstretched foot.
The Arsenal forward went close again, with Bola putting a pinpoint cross on his head and it only took a good save from home keeper Paul Lopez to prevent the visitors from taking the lead.
Any north London derby would not be complete without a little bite and both teams were providing plenty as the half went on - Connor Ogileve was the first overstep the mark on 24 minutes as he clattered into Krystian Bielik, forcing a lengthy stoppage.
Matt Macey was called into action late in the half but proved more than equal to Anthony Georgiou’s deflected effort five minutes from the interval.
We began to dominate after the restart, and five minutes in Bielik missed a gilt-edged chance to open the scoring as he blazed over from eight yards out.
As the game wore on, we increased our authority and the front four of Willock, Kaylen Hinds, Nelson and Mavididi were not giving the Spurs back four any time to settle.
It was only a matter of time before the deadlock was broken and on 65 minutes it came as Debuchy flew in at the back post to slam Willock’s cross in off the underside of the crossbar.
Two minutes later, Mavididi was brought down just outside the area by Owens and the Tottenham centre-half was duly sent off.
Arsenal soon found an extra gear, as Gedion Zelalem began to run the midfield with one memorable move seeing him play through Reiss Nelson, who stung the palms of Lopez.
The second goal finally came bang on 90 minutes as Hinds stepped inside the area and was chopped down by Luke Amos. Mavididi grabbed the ball and Arsenal’s second with it, sending Lopez the wrong way to seal the win.
It was just as well he did because Macey was called into action one final time, saving point blank from Anton Walkes and tipping over the bar with the last touch of the game.
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