Ro-Shaun Williams gets his first goal for United’s reserves as United take all three points in the first of a North-London double header this week.
Joyce originally named an unchanged side to the one that frustrated Liverpool and their head coach in last week’s 1-1 draw. Although shortly before kick-off Demi Mitchell replaced Scott McTominay up front.
United hadn’t faced Arsenal at this level since December 2013’s 1-1 draw. But since promotion last season the Gunners sat just behind United in the table in ninth going into the game.
There wasn’t any messing about from United, getting an early breakthrough from the most unlikely of sources. Joshua Harrop’s corner found Ro-Shaun Williams who creeped into some space at the back post to direct it in with an accurate header.
Following the goal United failed to build on it, whilst Arsenal had an abundance of possession, but none of it amounted to anything as the defence held strong thanks to some firm tackling from Regan Poole.
The defence seemed to form a back three whilst in possession of the ball, and with Tuanzebe, Poole and Williams, you don’t get much better than that at this level.
United were much improved in the second-half, going forward fluently and more directly creating chances with Joe Riley the lead instigator from the left wing.
But United could not double their lead as Riley’s weaving run and shot was saved, soon after Redmond’s effort tested the Arsenal keeper. Matty Willock, who seemed desperate to impress against the club that once released him also had an effort saved.
Sam Johnstone only had the one save to make as United eased to their third victory in the league this season. Not the most exciting of games, however the attacking play was much more encouraging from the side and hinted to a more fluid United side.
Man of the Match: Despite being listed at left-back Joe Riley spent the majority of it on the edge of Arsenal’s penalty area. He instigated more attacks than anyone else and pushed the team forward with his driving runs.
Line up: Johnstone 6, Williams 7, Poole 7, Tuanzebe 8, Riley 8, Harrop 6, Willock 6, Redmond 6, El Fitouri 6, Olosunde 7, Mitchell 7
Subs: O’Hara, Scott (Willock) 6, Whelan, Buffonge, Kehinde (Mitchell) 6
As far as academy transfers go, Dutch clubs usually produce something special. As proven by previous moves from the land of tulips. With Andreas Pereira from PSV, Fosu-Mensah from Ajax and most recently Tahith Chong from Feyenoord.
Now you can add 16 year-old Millen Baars to that list as the winger will join up with the under-18s in January. It was rumoured that the move was enforced by the fact the player had fallen out with coaching staff at Ajax.
What that says about a players attitude, you can’t be sure, but the move adds more attacking talent to an already flourishing side and it bodes well down the line for Warren Joyce who is already looking at pinching some of Kieran McKenna’s wealth of attacking options.
Any more debuts?
Louis Van Gaal did more for United’s academy than he gets credit for, providing 14 academy debuts in just two seasons.
Yes, a small squad, lengthy injury list are the main reason for those debutants. But the foundations he laid are still being used to this day, and not just at United. With most transferring to other premier league sides.
It’s easy to see who will be the next to make their first-team debut from the academy conveyor belt, but it’s difficult to see when this will be.
Axel Tuanzebe is a consistent 8/10 as he makes reserves level look too easy. The 19 year old just needs the right opportunity to fall his way and take it when it comes.
However Mourinho is in the position now where every game is a must win, he doesn’t have the luxury of embedding youth players into the side just yet. Tonight’s EFL cup tie being a Manchester Derby this won’t help the academy’s cause either.
Further down the line the younger players must be looking at the away trip to Zorya. If the team has already qualified from the group, surely a young squad will travel before the first-team face Tottenham 3 days later. So it is up to the first-team to qualify within the next two games to allow that to happen.
Tottenham [A] / Fri 28th October / Tottenham Training Centre / 12:00