Arsenal wrapped up their preparations for the new Premier Reserve League season with a 3-0 win over Dover Athletic this evening. Goals from Benik Afobe, Henri Lansbury and Luke Freeman mean the Gunners finish pre-season unbeaten.
A selection of scouts from clubs all over the country were present at the Crabble stadium, many of whom hoping to grab a glimpse of Kyle Bartley. He was not included after signing a new contract, but Benik Afobe and Vito Mannone did drop down from first-team duty to start.
ARSENAL: Mannone; Yennaris, Hajrovic, Boateng, Meade; Lansbury, Özyakup, Aneke; Watt, Afobe, Freeman.
In front of a healthy crowd of over 2500 fans, Dover enjoyed some confidence building early touches. Yet after sloppy play on the edge of the Arsenal box, the Gunners showed their ruthless instincts.
The in-form Chuks Aneke saw a powerful drive beaten away by Lee Hook, before Sanchez Watt almost prodded the ball home in a goal mouth scramble. The hosts managed to clear, but the ball quickly came back towards the Dover the goal. Özyakup picked out Afobe, and the exciting front man powered Arsenal into the lead. 1-0.
Henri Lansbury was next to try his luck, lashing two shots either side of Hook’s goal. However, moments later, and via a deflection from Ed Harris, Lansbury would make it 2-0. Dover then tried to hit back, but found Mannone is good form twice to make solid blocks.
With half time approaching, Arsenal got a third. Luke Freeman added his name to the score sheet, but only thanks to another deflection off that man Harris. 3-0 at the break.
Neil Banfield’s boys snapped out of the traps once again after the restart, and should have had a stunning fourth, but Freeman’s delicate chip was cleared. A raft of Arsenal changes saw Kyle Ebecilio, Elton Montiero, Martin Angha and Serge Gnabry all come off the bench, as Dover looked for a way back into the game.
Late on, Mannone was at is best to thwart the hosts on a handful of occasions, maintaining his clean sheet while also impressing the fraternity of scouts. Both sides took their foot of the gas in the closing stages, and the game finished 3-0.
An excellent finish to Arsenal’s pre-season preparations.