Arsenal U21 3-0 West Ham United U21: Player Ratings from Meadow Park
Second half goals from Myles Lewis-Skelly, Nathan Butler-Oyedeji and Amario Cozier-Duberry sealed an impressive victory over West Ham United in their Premier League 2 season opener at Meadow Park on Friday evening.
Mehmet Ali’s talented young guns hosted the young Irons with th sides were well-known to each other, with five of the visitors starting XI being part of the East Londoners side that lifted the 2023 FA Youth Cup at the Emirates last season.
Ali’s Arsenal for their part, watched by academy supremo Per Mertesacker and U18s boss Jack Wilshere, looked lively early on, as if determined not only to start the season well, but to banish memories of the 5-1 humiliation at Ashburton Grove in front of more than 34,000 last season.
The Premier League’s youngest-ever player Ethan Nwaneri, stood out at times during the opening 45 minutes, with exceptional power, pace, shape and balance as he drove forward, leaving the Irons backline backpedalling.
The East Londoners No8 Patrick Kelly caught the eye for the visitors, with the pair of evenly-matched sides heading into the break with the score goalless.
The home side came out fired up after the interval, with first half substitute Lewis-Skelly – on for the injured Jack Henry-Francis who picked up a knock moment before the break – slotting home in a crowded box on 58 minutes.
With the Boreham Wood North Bank Stand being lit up by a resplendent August sunset, Arsenal doubled the lead shortly afterwards, when Butler-Oyedeji fired past Knightbridge to make it 2-0 on 61 minutes, prior to Cozier-Duberry's late strike to seal a well-earned triumph for Ali's side.
Find out who impressed with our Player Ratings:
Ovie Ejeheri: 7/10 - Good footwork but has to be careful when distributing the ball with opponents bearing down on him. Opted to punch in a crowded box but will be pleased with a clean sheet
James Sweet: 7/10 - Early header flew narrowly wide. A solid defensive display
Lino Sousa: 7/10 - Full of running but perhaps more finesse on his end product when supplementing colleagues further forward. Dovetailed well with Charles Sagoe Jnr at times when bringing the ball out of defence
Reuell Walters: 7/10 - Showed good anticipation at times, with a willingness to bravely block when required
Zane Monlouis (c): 7/10 - Calm and composed on the ball
Bradley Ibrahim: 7/10 - Attempted shot blocked first half and put in a shift throughout against an excellent West Ham side
Amario Cozier-Duberry: 8.5/10 - A big season ahead for the exciting England U19 attacker. Engaged in a battling duel down the right-flank at times with Irons left-back and captain and Northern Irish U19 defender Michael Forbes. On the receiving end of some agricultural challenges but showed an excellent temperament not to get involved. Strong, with a low centre of gravity. A real prospect who desrved his late goal to cap an excellent evening
Jack Henry-Francis: 6/10 - Recycled the ball effectively while scrapping with intensity in the heat of battle before being forced off before the interval due to a heavy knock
Nathan Butler-Oyedeji: 7.5/10 - Not afraid to drop deep in search of the ball. Showed composure to slot home in the second half to double the Arsenal lead
Ethan Nwaneri: 8/10 - Powerful early run and shot from the 16-year-old Premier League starlet. Excellent technique as befits such a promising prospect, which, allied with impressive controlled aggression, power, pace, shape and balance, marks the young gun as one to watch. Earned his ovation as boss Ali subbed him late on
Charles Sagoe Jnr: 6/10 - Fired an early shot just wide. Displayed a great first touch at times and led the line unselfishly. Worked his socks off before beign replaced late on
Myles Lewis-Skelly: 7.5/10 - Replaced the injured Jack Henry-Francis who picked up a first half knock. Excellent finish for the Young Guns opener after the interval
Khayon Edwards: N/A - On for Nwaneri late on
Jimi Gower: N/A - Earning rave reviews at the moment, including an excellent performance at Bishop’s Stortford
Taylor Foran: N/A - On for Sagoe with moments remaining