Spurs under 23’s versus Arsenal: (match preview)
Wayne Burnett’s development side will contest the first north London derby of the season on Friday evening, when they face arch rivals Arsenal at the Emirates, in their fourth PL2 game of the season. Still in search of their first win of the new campaign, Burnett’s side will be hoping to change that on Friday when they take on the reigning PL2 champions in their own back yard. After grinding out 1-1 draws against both Liverpool and Brighton respectively, in their last two games, our under 23’s have been much more positive in both of those games then in our disappointing season opener with West Ham on game week one. I’m writing this preview earlier then usual this week and with the EFL loan window still open until Friday evening I would expect a couple of our players to head out on loan to EFL clubs before then. One player who headed out on loan at the weekend was Samuel Shashoua, the technically gifted playmaker has joined Spanish segunda division B club Atlético Baleares. The Balearic club ply their trade in the third tier of Spanish football and compete in the same league as the likes of Barcelona B and Villarreal B. Whilst he will be a massive loss for our under 23 side, this is a great opportunity for Shashoua to develop his game in a league where they play cultured attacking football. Shashoua will also get to play regular first team football, something which will stand him in really good stead for next season once he returns to Spurs. Regardless of how many players head out on loan before Fridays game, I am sure Burnett will still field a very strong squad for the north London derby. The gunners who are now managed by former Arsenal star Freddie Ljunberg enjoyed an excellent 2017/18 campaign. Winning the PL2 division one, Arsenal’s development side also made the final of the premier league international cup where they lost to Porto B.
The gunners academy set up has always been star studded and the side which they had to choose from last season was rich with talent. The likes of Reiss Nelson (who is incidentally on the verge of a move to German club Hoffenheim), prolific centre forward Eddie Nketiah and playmaker Emile Smith Rowe where just some of those who played an instrumental part in the gunners title winning success. Despite Arsenal’s success on the domestic stage, Burnett’s relegation stricken side did manage to do the double over them last season. Beating them 3-2 in a thrilling encounter at Hotspur Way, Spurs then went and beat Arsenal 3-1 in the reverse fixture which was played at Boreham Wood’s ground. That particular game was our best performance of the season, as Burnett’s side fought back from an early Arsenal goal to put in a sparkling attacking performance which blew away the home team. Oliver Skipp netted a glorious volley on that day and the excellent Keanan Bennett’s scored the most glorious free kick from long range. Having said that however, it’s important to mention that the talented duo of Nelson and Nketiah were sat in the stands, they also missed the reverse fixture at Hotspur Way back in October. I fear Arsenal’s attacking might ahead of Fridays encounter, apart from the previously mentioned players, they also have potent attacking players such as Xavier Amaechi, Bukayo Saka and Tyreece John-Jules to choose from. However, on a more positive note they have already conceded eight goals from their opening three PL2 games this season. During their title winning season of 2017/18 they conceded 32 goals. Whilst I think it will be a tough game for our lads on Friday, If we play with the attacking intensity that we showed against the gunners last season then they we will trouble their defence and create chances.
In addition, the pitch at the Emirates stadium will provide our speedy players with the width needed to exploit the Arsenal defence. I would love to see the electric J’Neil Bennett make his under 23 debut on Friday, Bennett (16) has started the season in excellent form for our under 18’s. His incredible speed and skill would definitely ask questions of the Arsenal defence. It’s difficult to predict how Burnett will lineup on Friday evening, will young Troy Parrott lead the line once again? will we see more players from the under 18 side make the step up? And how will we approach the game? One things for sure and that is that it promises to be a fascinating evening and an incredible experience for our young lads. Playing at the Emirates stadium is one thing but to have 500 traveling Spurs supporters cheering them on is something that many of them won’t have experienced before, and will likely never forget. Let’s hope it will be a memorable evening in more than one way for Burnett’s side, and let’s hope we can pick up our first three points of the season against our bitter rivals from down the road. I will be reporting on Friday evenings game before jetting off to Southampton to cover our under 18’s league game with the saints the following morning.
My predicted lineup: (4-2-3-1) Whiteman, Eyoma, Dinzeyi, Tanganga, Brown, Marsh (c), Skipp, Edwards, Maghoma, Harrison, Parrott.
Subs from: Freeman, Hinds, Duncan, Bennett, Roles.
Doubtful: Shilow Tracey and Brandon Austin.
Injured/unavailable: Jamie Reynolds (leg), Kazaiah Sterling (leg), Tom Glover (Glover has recently been trialing for other clubs), Samuel Shashoua (on loan to Spanish side Atlético Baleares for the remainder of the season).
Previous meeting: Spurs 3-1.
My score prediction: Spurs 2-1.
My one to watch: Arsenal’s teenage sensation Eddie Nketiah became an instant hit with the Arsenal fans after making his first team debut for the gunners in the league cup last season. Nketiah made an instant impact scoring twice against Norwich in the league cup. The 19 year old forward also made several more appearances for the gunners first team that season. Pacy, good in the air and clinical in front of goal, Nketiah scored 12 league goals from 13 games during the 2017/18 campaign.