Comeback Conor takes Arsenal Back to The Future

August 21, 2012

Barclays Under-21 Premier League

Arsenal 3 Bolton 1

Eisfeld 47 Blakeman 27 (Pen)

Henderson 61

Henderson 69

Emirates Stadium


Let’s face it, we have all become sick of the story. Arsenal gradually and painstakingly bring through players from various avenues of the youth development programme only to find they have Barca DNA, a dodgy hamstring or are just plain unsuited to the Premier League.

So with the purchases of Arteta, Mertesacker, Cazorla, Podolski etc, quality professionals in the peak age bracket we should assume that project youth is dead.

Well not quite because behind the facade of a first team much changed in the last twelve months, young guns still fire in Terry Burton’s under 21’s.

It also gave a glimpse of a forgotten gem. When I first noticed Connor Henderson he was passing his way around Leyton Orient’s defence in an FA Cup reply. The likes of Fabregas, Nasri, Clichy and Van Persie were part of the club, Bendtner scored that night too. Much has changed.

Henderson is a cool headed, laid back passer with an eye for the dead ball. Eisfeld is a bustling young Ljungberg as he often showed for the first hour with great movement off the ball and superb diagonal runs. Gnabry is a dribbler with power.

Project youth Mk II, is alive and well.

The game itself was a quiet affair early on with only Gnabry going close when he tried to dink it over Bolton’s keeper only to see his effort drift wide.

Then after Arsenal gave away possession Bolton broke through one on one and Martinez was left stranded and had no option but to try and steal the ball. He caught the player, penalty and a red card to boot.

Bolton’s captain Adam Blakeman coolly finished from the spot on 25 minutes and you had to worry for a young ten man Arsenal.

Substitute keeper James Shea pulled off a worldy tipping over the bar. Moments later he made a great save at his near post. His handling was good all night.

Arsenal made it to half time at 0-1.

The second half began with Gnabry and Akpom causing mayhem before Eisfeld was in the right place at the right time for Arsenal to fire home for 1-1.

Moments later Bellerin smashed the ball into the North Bank after the tireless Gnabry had played him in.

Ten minutes later Arsenal won a free-kick outside the D.

Gnabry and Henderson lined it up and Gnabry’s half dummy run up, Henderson floated the free-kick in to the corner of the net.

Henderson, who had quietly bossed the game, was now playing with a swagger. He was helped in the second half with the help of Gnabry and Eisfeld who became more inside forwards than wingers.

The sending off seemed to remove a stage from Arsenal’s attacks, they became more directs. A lesson the first team might learn.

On 70 minutes, left back Jernade Meade burst threw only to be forced to the ground.

Henderson converted the penalty in to the roof of the net.

For a young man who 12 months ago damaged his cruciate knee ligament it must have been a nice moment.

It was a good night as well for Terry Burton. His team played with a lot of guts and style.

I have added a column below to show which of these I think you might see in the Carling Cup.

All in all there is a lot to be said for playing at the Emirates. A bumper crowd of over 4,000 gave support, a great pitch rather than the slope at Underhill which allowed two good halves of football and a better pace to the game.

The under 21 looks more fun than the reserves league. Roll on Blackburn on Saturday.

Carling Cup Player?

GK Damian Martinez Did fine until sent off in the penalty incident 5 No

RB Hector Bellerin (80) Few loose touches and passes, good start to second half, bad miss. 5 No

LB Jernade Meade<> Another converted winger who seems to lack concerntration, very quick. 5 No

LCB Ignasi Miquel (c)<> Started slow but stepped up as the game went on. Did well. 7 Yes

RCB Elton Monteiro A Djourou in the making 5 ?

CM Nico Yennaris<> Ran and ran, very solid, just one of those players that doesn’t let you down. 7 Yes

DM Conor Henderson<>Started slow but brought the game to his pace, wonderful free kick and a good pen too. Never rushed. 9 Yes

RW Thomas Eisfeld (73) Great movement, quick feet and bottle. Reminds me of Freddie. 9 Yes

LW Serge Gnabry Very like the Ox on that performance, with Eisfeld, took the game to Bolton. 9 Yes

AM Kristoffer Olsson<> (25) Taken off due to penalty incident, looked tidy. 6 No

CF Chuba Akpom<> Involved in first goal but offered little. Tough job as a lone front runner. 5 No


James Shea<> (25) Two great saves, safe as houses. 8 No

Sead Hajrovic<>

Martin Angha<> (80) Very bad haircut 5 No

Kyle Ebecilio (73) One nice run. 6 No

Written by Arsenalista

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