Manchester United’s u21s kicked off their campaign today away to Arsenal in a new look Premier League 2 as the league has changed from u23s to u21s.
United started the match with good passing play and worked the ball around the box from left to right before Omari Forson took a tame shot into the keeper’s arms.
A string of errors at the back with the ball from Dermot Mee and then Bjorn Hardley gifted Arsenal a huge chance but Hardley recovered to block an almost certain goal.
United cleared an Arsenal corner but the second ball in caught the backline out, leaving an Arsenal player in acres of space for a free header from 10 yards but he couldn’t leap high enough to get over the ball and looped it over the bar as a result.
In the 13th minute Charlie McNeill won a free kick 20 yards out. Charlie Wellens lined up the ball and curled it over the wall and into the top right corner giving the keeper no chance, a spectacularly taken goal.
— academyarena Utd (@academyarenaUTD) August 6, 2022
A poor pass into Charlie Savage in the midfield saw possession turned over and Arsenal’s Matt Smith picked the up the ball and drove into box and shot wide of the left post.
Seconds later, Arsenal threatened again with a shot from long range that was parried out by Mee.
In the 25th, Arsenal raced in behind Wellens and cut back for Matt Smith to shoot but the attempt was straight at Mee who did well to hold onto the stinging ball.
It was becoming a one sided affair as Arsenal dominated the chances and United struggled to maintain any sort of possession. Frustration was beginning to set in and the skipper Savage could be heard exasperatedly saying “come on, that touch is sh-t” to Marc Jurado as he recovered for the defender’s mistake, mopping up the mess with a great tackle to win goal kick.
Arsenal’s new Brazilian signing, Marquinhos, was causing havoc for Jurado and ran in behind him again and this time it finally paid dividends as his shot was pushed by into a dangerous areas by Mee for Khayon Edwards to slide and poke into the net to draw the match level minutes before the half.
A minute later, Marquinhos was terrorizing Jurado again and cut back to tee up the strike for James Olayinka from 18 yards but the midfielder soared it out of the stadium.
The second half continued much as the first with Marquinhos the key danger man and within a minute of the restart he cut in from the right and smashed a shot that was blocked. But he was the liveliest to the breaking ball and slid it into the bottom left corner to give Arsenal the lead.
United continued to struggle playing out from the back as Mee played Savage into danger, causing a turnover of the ball and Arsenal were quick on it to play into the box for Miguel Azeez to double the lead in the 50th minute.
Just minutes later Arsenal hit on counter and Marquinhos got in behind on the right to cross to back post to Charles Sagoe Jr for an easy chance but he volleyed it into the stands.
In the 55th minute, Charlie McNeill and Forson combined to try force a turnover from Lino Sousa’s loose touch but the Arsenal man outmuscled and outpaced them both to hold onto the ball until McNeill hit out in frustration and picked up a yellow card.
United were finding a bit more momentum when Wellens played the ball into the channel for McNeill, who was able to hold the ball up for the first time. But he turned and played a tame pass across the box straight to the keeper.
The 67th minute saw a good switching pass from Savage to the right for Wellens to put in an early cross and it was great control from McNeill to bring the ball down and work the space for reverse a shot to the bottom left corner, but a top save tipped it round for a corner.
A few minutes later after a great bit of possession from United, the final ball from Isak Hansen-Aaroen was cut out and Arsenal hit long for the counter. Tyler Fredricson got caught under the ball trying to deal with it, allowing Sagoe Jr to steal in and run clean through on goal, but he struck wide.
The last 15 minutes saw United finally retaining the bulk of possession. After working it around the box, Hansen-Aaroen took a quick shot from 22 yards and hit the right post and out. Kobbie Mainoo looked to follow up on the loose ball, trying to drive through the box but after stumbling past two challenges he couldn’t get passed the third that pumped the ball clear.
In injury time, Sam Mather tried to catch the Arsenal keeper off guard from wide a free kick by curling it to the near post but he was quick across the goal and tipped it around the post.
The final whistle came shortly after with the final score a deserved 3-1 win for Arsenal.
United: Mee, Wellens (Pye 72), Fredricson, Hardley, Jurado, Savage, Gore (Mather 84), Forson, Hansen-Aaroen, Mejia (Mainoo 65), McNeill
Unused Subs: Harrison, Aljofree
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