Ali on a "frustrating" result against Lens

Mehmet Ali shared his reflections on a "frustrating" afternoon in the UEFA Youth League, as our under-19s suffered a narrow loss against RC Lens. 

"I felt like we started the game well," said our under-19s coach. "There were probably two different styles on show in the game and credit to our opponents, their style beat our style today."

"They were in a low block, they defended well, and they waited for opportunities to counter. When you're us with the way we play, you can't give the ball away cheaply and we did that a few times in the first half. It led to a penalty and the timing of the goal was unfortunate for us.

"But we still had the second half. My frustrations weren't so much with the first half, but more with the second half and how we didn't really take the game to our opponents."

A penalty deep into first-half stoppage time proved to be the only difference between the two sides at the Stade Francois-Blin and Ali regretted our lack of killer instinct in search of an equaliser.

"I think that's football. When you're playing for Arsenal, you've got to be able to roll your sleeves up and embrace the opportunity that you've got.

"We lacked a little bit of creativity and cutting edge in the final third. We wanted our attacking players, our wingers and our centre forward to definitely do more than our deeper players to make more impressive runs in behind. We didn't have enough shots on target. We didn't work their goalkeeper enough. So lots to look at and lots to learn from this game."

Despite two opening losses, the coach still believes the UEFA Youth League provides a fantastic learning opportunity for our young Gunners.

"It's a great competition to be involved in. In the first half, I was really pleased with our boys' intent in what we were trying to do. Yeah, we made unforced errors but you expect that and I think both teams did that.

"So some positives from the first-half performance but we have to be better with our basics. It's always difficult now when you've lost your first two opening games but there's an opportunity for us to be better in the next game.

Looking ahead to our next fixture away to Sevilla at the end of October, Ali relishes the upcoming challenge.

"That's what this competition is about. That's why tournament football is so good. You've got to get off to a good start. We haven't so we'll look in the mirror, not feel sorry for ourselves and make sure we go again in the next game."

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