Arsenal inflict London derby defeat on Hammers U23s



Arsenal inflicted a London derby defeat for West Ham United’s U23s on Friday night as the Gunners were 3-2 winners in Premier League 2 at London Stadium.

Julio Pleguezuelo’s header – sandwiched between two Eddie Nketiah’s goal – meant Xande Silva and Reece Oxford strikes eventually counted for nothing as the visitors took all three points.

Hosts West Ham were the first side to go close, when in the 13th minute, Nathan Holland’s quick thinking gave Grady Diangana a chance in the six-yard-box from a corner, but the winger miss-kicked and Arsenal cleared.

From the resulting clearance, the Gunners went up the other end and nearly took the lead but for Nathan Trott’s fine goalkeeping, as the stopper beat away Nketiah’s effort.

The striker was not to be denied on 26 minutes though. A free-kick inside Arsenal’s half was pumped long by captain Pleguezuelo, and the No9 ran through to finish past Trott this time and put his team in front.

It was two seven minutes later, and it came from another set-piece. This time it was a corner with Xavier Amaechi the taker, and Pleguezuelo rose highest in the box to loop a long-range header into the far corner for 2-0.

In search of a way back into the game as the second half began, the hosts looked most dangerous and did half the deficit just three minutes after the restart. 

Joe Powell stole the ball from Amaechi on the Hammers’ left and crossed beautifully, putting it on a plate for Xande Silva to head home his fifth of the season.

Reece Oxford
But the hosts’ joy was short-lived, as Nketiah was again on scoresheet to restore the Gunners’ two-goal advantage. A cross from the left was not dealt with by West Ham, and the striker was able to swivel and shoot low under Trott into the back of the West Ham net.

Just before the hour mark, Conor Coventry almost spectacularly grabbed a second goal for his team when his rasping drive from 25 yards flew just wide.

But the second did come two minutes later. Holland’s corner from the left was a perfect one, and Oxford was able to get up inside the six-yard-box to plant his head on the ball and make it 3-2.

In similar style to the Hammers’ last encounter – their incredible 6-4 defeat to Manchester City – the visitors almost scored directly from kick-off. Nketiah went down the other end but smashed his effort from the edge of the box against the upright. 

With just over ten minutes left on the clock, the Hammers went so close to grabbing the all-important sixth goal. Holland first evaded the keeper before finding Xande Silva, but the striker’s goalbound shot was blocked from four yards when it looked to be destined for the back of the net.

Then, almost immediately, sub Oladapo Afolayan smashed against the crossbar, with the ball agonisingly bouncing over, with his left foot.

Arsenal managed the last ten minutes well at London Stadium and eventually ran out 3-2 winners, taking all three points back to north London ahead of Saturday’s first team fixture at the Emirates Stadium.

West Ham United: Trott, Johnson, Pask, Oxford, Powell, Coventry, Cullen (Hector-Ingram 78), Lewis, Diangana (Afolayan 64), Holland, Xande Silva

Subs: Barrett, Anang, Alese

Bookings: Johnson 43, Coventry 89

Goals: Xande Silva 48, Oxford 60

Arsenal: Iliev, Olowu, Bola, Gilmour, Ballard, Pleguezuelo, Amaechi (Saka 73), Willock, Nketiah, Smith-Rowe, Nelson

Subs: Medley, Hein, Olayinka, John-Jules

Goals: Nketiah 26, 52, Pleguezuelo 33