By Dan Critchlow
Following the conclusion of the transfer window, Arsenal made a number of changes to their u21 team to face Blackburn Rovers on Saturday.
The midfield was completely different, with Matt Smith stepping up to the first-team squad, James Olayinka leaving permanently, and Miguel Azeez going out on loan. Jack Henry-Francis, Mauro Bandeira, and 15-year-old Ethan Nwaneri came into the side.
The changes did nothing to quell Arsenal’s strong early season form, with Amario Cozier-Duberry scoring in the 10th minute, and Nathan Butler-Oyedeji doubling the lead in the 19th, assisted by Nwaneri.
Blackburn tried to get back into the team after that, and Hubert Graczyk had to make a strong save to keep Arsenal 2-0 up. Then Cozier-Duberry was denied a third Gunners goal by the post, and the two teams went in at 2-0 at half-time.
The away side did get their goal in the 56th minute, with Harrison Wood reducing the Arsenal advantage.
But Arsenal were largely on top in the second half, with Bandeira seeing a shot saved in the 65th minute before Charles Sagoe Jr scored in the 77th to settle the contest, assisted by Cozier-Duberry.
With a few minutes to go, Billy Vigar came off the bench for Sagoe Jr, and the substitute striker set up a fourth goal, with Jack Henry-Francis bagging his first of the campaign.
It was certainly positive to see Arsenal performing so well despite the core of the team being ripped out. The Gunners remain top of the league on goals scored, having an equivalent points and goal difference total to Crystal Palace in second.
Arsenal u21 lineup vs Blackburn Rovers
Graczyk, Sweet, Awe, Foran, Sousa, Henry-Francis, Nwaneri, Bandeira, Sagoe Jr, Cozier-Duberry, Butler-Oyedeji
Ideho (for Nwaneri, 59), Taylor-Hart (for Butler-Oyedeji, 77), Vigar (for Sagoe Jr, 87), Jeffcott (for Awe, 87), Hillson
There’s no rest for Kevin Betsy’s side right now, with a Premier League International Cup game against the Feyenoord u21s on Tuesday at 19:00 BST.
Source: Daily Cannon.