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Thursday, 2 August 2012

Report: Dartford 2-1 Arsenal XI

Terry Burton's third match in charge of the reserves ended in disappointment, but there are positives to be taken. 

Firstly, Serge Gnabry, the 17 year old German who recently signed professional terms with the club, was outstanding in the first half. 

Deployed at left midfield, Gnabry was a constant threat to the Dartford defence with his pace, skill and directness. The youngster has only just returned from injury yet showed no signs of rustiness with his powerful runs and general tenacity. His ability to beat a man is aided by his robust physique - particularly in his upper body strength. 

From what I've seen, Gnabry has the necessary balance between physical and technical ability to warrant him a place on the bench for the Capital One Cup this season.

In the first half, the ball was passed to Gnabry out wide, and with his first touch, the youngster audaciously span it round the approaching defender, only to be tackled by a covering player. 

Several bullish runs into the box later, Gnabry picked the ball up in a central position and drove forward in typical fashion, leaving opposition players in his wake. He unleashed a dangerous shot which beat the keeper, but cannoned off the post. 

Unfortunately Gnabry failed to have a similar impact in the second half and was subbed for Jernade Meade after the hour mark. 

Thomas Eisfeld's performance is another reason to be positive. The German, back from touring Asia with the first team, was deployed on the right hand side of midfield. His footballing intelligence is evident when you watch him, with his subtle bursts of movement and clever reverse balls. He had a chance to score early on, when a cross from the impressive Samir Bihmoutine fell to him around 10 yards out, but his effort was blocked. 

The diminutive German's tendency to drift inside from the right is a strong indication that his natural position is a more central one. He is certainly one to look out for and is likely to feature in the Capital One Cup this season. 

Moreover, fullbacks Hector Bellerin and Samir Bihmoutine were impressive. The latter was excellent in complementing Gnabry's game, whose tendency to cut inside with his favoured right foot created space out wide. Thus, Bihmoutine would tirelessly overlap, providing a source of width for the side. He also delivered several dangerous crosses, while maintaining a solid game defensively. Similar can be said for Bellerin.

However, Sanchez Watt was again underwhelming. He scored a penalty, which he won himself after an excellent through ball by Conor Henderson, but overall showed a real lack of composure in his finishing.

Chuks Aneke, also back from the tour of Asia, lacked end product. On several occasions he received the ball on the edge of the box, but poor decision making let him down. However, the mental sharpness will come with more minutes, and he should take encouragement from the fact he is getting in positions where he can score or create goals.

A poor backpass by Swiss centre back Sead Hajrovic - hitherto criticised for a fragile concentration - handed Dartford the winner. A goalmouth scramble provided Arsenal with some hope of an equaliser late on, but the game finished 2-1, ending Burton's two-match unbeaten run as manager of the reserves. 

Arsenal XI dominated large parts of the first half but failed to capitalise on their opportunities. They faced a plucky Dartford side, who grabbed the win somewhat fortuitously. The second half was rather uneventful but Burton certainly has positives to take from the game, especially from the younger crop of players.

Next up is Chesham on Saturday, where hopefully the team can finish with a win before the new season commences. 

'Til then, and remember to Follow me Twitter.

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