Thursday 13 Jan
Updated Thursday 13 Jan 14:30
Academy

Arsenal U23s v West Ham United U23s – All You Need To Know

West Ham United U23s in action


Having returned to Premier League 2 action on Monday, West Ham United U23s face a quick turnaround as they take on Arsenal at Meadow Park on Friday evening. 

A clash between two teams towards the top of the table, the Hammers will be looking to claim a league double in this U23s contest in north London. 

Fans are able to attend the match at the home of Boreham Wood, provided an NHS QR Code is scanned in upon entry, while supporters can also follow the U23s in action via whufc.com, with our live blog coverage, and on social media!

Here is everything you need to know about this Friday’s match…
 

The story so far 

The big question hanging over Mark Robson’s young Hammers earlier this week was whether the side could bring their incredible 2021 form into 2022, having gone a month without a competitive fixture.

The answer was clear for all to see after Monday’s match with Leeds United. After a slightly slow start, the Irons claimed a 3-0 victory over the Whites, taking the 2021/22 league record to 11 wins in 15 Premier League 2 games. 
 

Okoflex scores against Leeds for West Ham U23s

 

West Ham now sit clear four points clear at the top of the table, having played one game fewer than second-placed Manchester City. Tottenham Hotspur occupy third, six points behind the Irons, while Friday’s opponents Arsenal are in fourth.

The Hammers, who have won their last five Premier League 2 matches, have scored the most goals in the division and have also conceded the fewest.
 

The opposition

Playing Arsenal at any level always proves to be a stern test. 

If West Ham are to prove they are deserving of claiming the Premier League 2 Division 1 title this season, they will need to contend with one of the stand-out teams in recent history in U23s football. 

It is fair to say that the young Gunners haven’t quite hit their lofty previous heights in the last couple of campaigns but, under the coaching of former England U18s coach Kevin Betsy, Arsenal are starting to work their way back up the division. 

Having won the Premier League 2 title in the 2017/18 season, the north London side will be looking for their U23s to achieve similar glory in the coming campaigns. A positive result against leaders West Ham on Friday could be a big step in the right direction.

One name the Gunners will be without on Friday is striker Florian Balogun. The forward had scored 15 goals in just 13 outings in Premier League 2 action this season, and is the competition's all-time top goalscorer, but completed a loan move to Championship side Middlesbrough earlier this week. 

Not that Arsenal U23s still don’t have the players who can score goals. Forward Mika Biereth has netted seven times in 15 Premier League 2 outings after a summer move from Fulham, and he has played a hand in 12 goals in 19 matches in all competitions this campaign. His impressive form earned him a place on the first team bench for the recent FA Cup defeat to Nottingham Forest.

Attacking midfielder Omari Hutchinson was in the same squad, having received rave reviews from Arsenal legends in recent weeks. The 18-year-old has four goals and five assists in 12 Premier League 2 games this campaign and scored twice in the Gunners' FA Youth Cup fifth-round win over West Ham last season.

Midfielder Charlie Patino has also impressed in his 14 U23s appearances this season, going on to play twice for the Gunners’ first team – including scoring his first senior goal in a 5-1 Carabao Cup quarter-final win over Sunderland.
 

Charlie Patino with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta
Charlie Patino with Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta

Last time out 

It was a memorable occasion for all involved at West Ham United when the U23s met Arsenal in the reverse fixture in their first match of the 2021/22 season back in August. 

The Hammers ran out deserving winners against the Gunners in a thrilling 6-1 victory played at the first team home, London Stadium.

Mipo Odubeko had given West Ham the lead in the first half with an emphatic finish before the side found goals galore in the second period, with Armstrong Okoflex netting a terrific hat-trick against his former club. 

Conor Coventry would also get on the scoresheet, punishing an Arsenal defensive error, while Thierry Nevers also got on the scoresheet late on. 

Arsenal’s goal came from the penalty spot, with Miguel Azeez netting the away side’s consolation deep into injury time.

When it comes to U23s football, West Ham have played no other team more than Arsenal. Prior to this Friday’s game, the two sides have met on 18 occasions. West Ham have won seven of those, narrowly edged by Arsenal’s eight victories.
 

Conor Coventry in action against Arsenal

 

What they’re saying

West Ham United U23s Lead Coach Mark Robson: "They’ll be a good side in possession, no doubt. They’ll have some good individual players who’ll look to try and play through the thirds.

"It will be a tough game. I watched them the other day against Brighton when they had a young team out, and I have to say I was very impressed with the way they played. We know it’s going to be another tough game, but you don’t get any easy games in this division.

“The boys are looking forward to it. We’re on a very good run and we want to maintain it as best we can.”
 

How can I watch?

West Ham United U23s’ match against Arsenal U23s will be played at Meadow Park – the home of Boreham Wood Football Club – on Friday 14 January. Kick-off is set for 7pm.

Entry is free for any fan wishing to attend but supporters wanting to gain entry to the match must scan in with their NHS QR code when entering Meadow Park. 

In line with the Spectators Code Of Conduct, any fan unable to scan in their NHS QR Code will not be permitted entry to Friday's Premier League 2 match.

Fans not able to attend the game can follow the match through our live blog on whufc.com from 6.30pm, while significant match updates will also be available through Twitter. 

There will also be post-match reaction and highlights pieces available over Friday evening and Saturday morning.

 

Watford GS