Mehmet Ali’s young Gunners had no trouble finding the back of the net in Sunday’s 6-3 win against Brighton & Hove Albion Under-21s.
We comfortably got back to winning ways to go second in Premier League 2.
“In terms of scoring six goals, it was outstanding from our lads today,” Mehmet said after the game. “I felt our identity beat their identity. We know how they want to play, they’re a dangerous side and they’ve scored a lot of goals in their previous three to four games.
“I felt that we were comfortable without the ball and then when we won it we were deadly. We got into the final third well and took our chances which was brilliant.
“In the second half I thought our control in the game was good. We made a few minor adjustments and our midfielders really took control of the game, which we liked.
“Having said that, we gave away some sloppy goals, which we want to look at and make sure we improve upon, but we know we’re playing a good side today and to score six goals against them is really pleasing.”
It could have been even more comfortable for us though and, given that we were leading 4-0 shortly before half-time, there will be some frustration that we allowed Brighton to come back into the game and get the score to 5-3.
“There are definitely improvements because a similar thing happened against Manchester United when we came out of the blocks firing, got our goals, and United were better than us in the second half,” Mehmet said. “Today, I didn’t feel it as much, but still disappointing to be in a good position but then not fully comfortable for 90 minutes. It’s something we’ve got to work on.”
One goal and two assists is a good return for defensive midfielder Bradley Ibrahim, who ran the show in the first half.
“He took his goal really well,” Mehmet said. “He’s been working really hard in training doing extras and we’re really pleased with him. He did get booked, which was disappointing, and then we took him off at half-time, but overall, for him to get a goal and two assists, contributing from an attacking point of view as well as the great work he does defensively, we were really pleased with him.”
There was also a first Under-21s game for Chido Obi, was made his debut at the age of just 15.
“Arsenal is a great club to work for and we’re always looking at top talents and players that deserve opportunities, but then they’ve got to take that,” Mehmet said. “To be fair to Chido he had a really tough game midweek playing in the UEFA Youth League for the under-19s.
“Today he got on the pitch which was good for him in 21s football, but now he’s got to go back to his 16s group, get his head down and work really hard, think about some of the areas that he struggled in against older players and look to improve and get better, so when he does play at this level he’s in a better position.”
Ayden Heaven also made his Premier League 2 debut and got the supporters clapping with some well-timed challenges and clever footwork.
“Credit to our PDP staff, him working and playing with the under-18s,” Mehmet said. “He’s had a good pre-season and some really good performances in under-18 football. Again, he deserved his opportunity. Sometimes it’s by default, through injuries, but he was ready and embraced the opportunity he had, but it’s a similar message really. He’s got to get his head down, go back with the 18s if that’s right for him and really improve and get better.”