Mehmet on Blackburn draw and impact of Timber

Mehmet Ali believed his side had the chances to secure a win in the second half following our 2-2 draw with Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park on Monday night.

Despite taking a two-goal lead in the first half-hour through goals from Jurrien Timber and Amario Cozier-Duberry, Blackburn's quick-fire goals just before the break saw them snatch a point, leaving us unable to claim victory.

Mehmet said “I felt like we started the game very well, we were aggressive and on the front foot. We had a lot of the ball, got into good areas and were rewarded. Firstly with a very good goal from Timber and then Nathan does brilliantly to win a penalty with a clever run and Amario tucked it away.

“But, Then similar to our story last week, we were 2-0 up and gave away two sloppy goals but credit to Blackburn they never gave in. We did have a couple of opportunities to score but we didn’t take them.

The under-21s head coach thought we could have maybe nicked it in the closing stages of the game. He said, “For me in the second half, Blackburn probably had the best of it until the hour mark and in those moments, we defended well and Brian made some good saves. But, we finished the game strong and they were hanging on a little bit, playing a low block but unfortunately, we didn’t get a third goal to win it. However, it’s great learning from the lads with a lot to pick up and improve on.

Mehmet Ali spoke about the positive impact of having Timber for 45 minutes of the game. The Dutch defender marked his long-awaited return, from an ACL injury, with a stunning first half-strike.

“It’s been great having him and the lads gave him a round of applause in our pre-match meeting. It’s never easy to be a professional footballer and suffer the injury that he had and miss a lot of football. 

“He’s come into a new country and it’s been difficult for him but since his return, he’s been excellent. Whether that’s been training with the first team or training with us, he’s been a real good role model for the younger players and his performance showed that this evening.

“He scored a very good goal showing tremendous ability to execute that finish. His decision-making and his whole performance for 45 minutes was very strong and the players will learn a lot through watching him.”

Mehmet concluded by saying that his side will have to improve if they are to have a run in the Premier League 2 playoffs.

He remarked, “We take it game by game and I feel that some of this group of players are at crossroads with their time at Arsenal and looking at their next chapter in their next journey which we need to help and support them with. 

“Then we’ve got some real young players that need to mature quickly, they’ve got unbelievable talent, but they need to make sure that they are grafting every single day because the play-offs are going to be so important for their development.

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