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Saturday, 22 September 2012

Arsenal U21s fail to impress ahead of Capital One Cup tie

Terry Burton's reserves side faced West Ham United at their East London Old Ford Sports Ground on Friday, hoping to ensure their preceding result - the 1-1 draw at home to Norwich City - was just a minor blemish in an otherwise 100% start to the season.

However, this was not to be, as West Ham dispatched their Arsenal counterparts 4-1 in what was a disappointing display from the Gunners.

Despite taking the lead after just five minutes through centre back Elton Monteiro's bullet header, Arsenal failed to cope with the relentless pressure from the Hammers and conceded two goals in each half.

Sticking to his promise after the Norwich game, Burton gave starts to those he rested, making eight changes in total. Samir Bihmoutine was handed his first appearance of the season at left back, while Serge Gnabry returned after the knock he received against Olympiakos in the Next Gen Series last week.

Sanchez Watt retained his place upfront, perhaps due to the absence of Chuba Akpom who is in Estonia with England U19s, while Nico Yennaris returned to his berth in defensive midfield. He was partnered by versatile Dutchman Kyle Ebecilio, who has impressed intermittently this season.

Few players shone; there were glimpses of magic from Gnabry, and Hector Bellerin was by all accounts a dangerous attacking threat when he came on after the hour mark.

However, Burton's decision to make such a large reshuffle to the team certainly backfired. The defence lacked organisation and experience while the forward players showed little end product.

The torrential rain may have played a part in what was a disjointed and generally lacklustre performance from Burton's men, however it was the same for both sides.

This was the final window of opportunity for some of these youngsters to impress before the League Cup tie against Coventry this Wednesday, but it did not go the way they would have planned.

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