Pre-Match Report

Preview: Arsenal U-23s v Derby County

John-Jules

We’ll be looking to return to the Premier League 2 summit with a victory over Derby County on Friday evening.

THE STORY SO FAR

We ended 2019 with wins against Blackburn Rovers and Dinamo Zagreb, but fell to defeat away to Brighton & Hove Albion.

Against Rovers at Meadow Park, three first-half goals secured the win, with Trae Coyle, Zech Medley and Tyreece John-Jules all netting before the interval. Despite the visitors pulling a goal back, we showed our defensive strength to hold on to the victory.

In our final away match of the year, a Peter Gwargis stunner from 25-yards saw us narrowly lose 1-0 to the Seagulls. Despite going down to 10 men early in the second half, we were unlucky not to gain at least a point as both Medley and James Olayinka hit the post late on.

A injury time winner from John-Jules in the Premier League International Cup made it two wins from two in the competition, as we beat a strong Zagreb side.

We found ourselves a goal down early into the match, but strikes either side of half-time from John-Jules and Olayinka turned the tie around. With 10 minutes of the match remaining, the visitors equalised and after Folarin Balogun missed a late penalty, the points looked set to be shared.

However, with the last kick of the game, John-Jules tapped home Balogun’s neat cut-back inside the box, sparking jubilant scenes.

We currently sit third in the PL2 table behind the Rams and Chelsea, but we could move to the top of the league with a win.  

THE OPPOSITION

The Rams currently sit in top spot after a strong first half of the season.

In their final match of 2019, they swept past Southampton to record a 4-2 victory. Louie Sibley bagged a brace while Morgan Whittaker and Josh Shonibare were also on the scoresheet.

The 21-year-old Jahmal Hector-Ingram is currently their top goalscorer with seven goals in 12 matches.

In the reverse fixture in August, we came from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Pride Park, thanks to goals from Robbie Burton and Balogun.  

ONE TO WATCH

Balogun has looked back to his best since returning from injury, and could be in line to start his first match since October.  

The forward had scored seven goals and registered four assists in nine Premier League 2 matches before his spell on the sidelines, and with electric pace and an eye for goal, he offers many options as he can play on either wing or as a striker.

He came off the bench against Zagreb and provided the assist for John-Jules’s late winner when he controlled well inside the box, skipped past a challenge and squared the ball to his strike partner.  

FOLLOW THE ACTION

You can receive live updates by following our Twitter account @ArsenalAcademy

Stay close to Arsenal.com for our match report and post-match reaction from Steve Bould.

By Sam Cox

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