Pre-Match Report

Preview: Arsenal U-23s v Everton

Under-23s celebrate

We’ll be hoping to make it three wins from three in the Premier League 2 on Friday night when we host Everton at Emirates Stadium.

THE STORY SO FAR 

Our under-23s kicked off their league season with a comfortable 3-1 win over Blackburn Rovers, courtesy of a Folarin Balogun hat-trick, before defeating Brighton & Hove Albion 2-1 at Meadow Park. 

Nathan Tormey opened the scoring in the 58th minute with a fine finish, before Emile Smith Rowe danced past three defenders and fired the ball into the top corner to double our advantage. 

It was a professional and controlled performance for the most part - but head coach Steve Bould was disappointed to throw away the clean sheet after conceding late on to James Tilley. 

We’re currently one of only three teams in the PL2 to win each of their opening two league fixtures. Tottenham and Chelsea sit in first and second respectively due to goal difference. Victory would take us top of the table. 

Emile Smith Rowe

THE OPPOSITION 

Everton have experienced a frustrating start to their season, after being held to two goalless draws against Leicester City and Wolves. 

On the plus side for the Toffees, they’ve shown defensive reliance and limited their opponents to few chances - but they’ve fallen short in the final third and failed to punish a 10-man Leicester on the opening day of the season. 

David Unsworth’s side were crowned champions of the PL2 last term, winning 12 and drawing five of their 22 league fixtures. 

The Toffees were outscored by all but four PL2 sides, but their defensive record proved to be the difference, having conceded just 14 goals all season. That’s 13 fewer than any other side. 

Unsworth

ONE TO WATCH 

Balogun finished 2018/19 as the top scorer in the U-18 Premier League south, scoring 25 goals in 19 games. No other 17-year-old scored more in English youth football last term. 

With that in mind, Balogun will be hoping for a repeat this season, as he looks to prove his worth at under-23 level. 

After scoring a hat-trick on the opening day of the season and assisting Tormey’s opener against Brighton, the pacey forward will be desperate to perform at Emirates Stadium on Friday night. 


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