Arsenal continued their excellent start to the Premier Reserve League season with a smash and grab 1-0 win over Blackburn Rovers this evening. Sanchez Watt struck the winner, converting Oğuzhan Özyakup’s pass.
Neil Banfield had to make do without several first-team youngsters, but was allowed to keep Ryo Miyaichi, with the Japanese youngster still short of full fitness. Carling Cup debutant’s Oğuzhan Özyakup and Chuks Aneke started, while Ignasi Miquel was injured in the warm up, and replaced by the returning Sead Hajrovic.
ARSENAL: Martínez; Angha, Boateng, Hajrovic, Meade; Yennaris, Özyakup; Miyaichi, Aneke, Freeman; Watt.
Banfield re-lived last season seven goal thriller before kick off, and told Arsenal.com he hoped Blackburn would bring another experienced side to the capital, with his exciting young charges prepared to ‘have a real go’.
Rovers boss Gary Bowyer kept his side of the bargain, starting first-teamers Grant Hanley, Herold Goulon, Bruno Ribeiro, Jordan Slew and Simon Vukčević, and as the game began, Banfield’s boys did their bit. Arsenal snapped out of the traps and penned the visitors into their own half, creating shoot chances for Özyakup and then Freeman in quick succession.
Freeman then helped carve Blackburn open, feeding Miyaichi who in turn found Watt, but the lone striker could only roll his shot against the post. Up the other end, Meade was on hand to head Hanley’s header off the line, in a rare attack by the visitors.
The half time break came and went, with few chances to speak of. A tired looking Miyaichi was replaced on the hour mark, and as the game showed signs of slowing down, Arsenal struck. The efficient Özyakup fed hungry Watt, who lashed the Gunners in front. 1-0.
Vukčević and Hanley were both proving useful in the box in the final stages, but Martin Angha, fresh from training with the first-team this week, was on hand on several occasions to block and clear. The Gunners weather some late pressure, with after Martínez tipped over Slew’s free-kick in stoppage, the win was secured.
All in all, a gritty victory, in front of the watching and supporting Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.