Whilst watching the U15’s Win 1-0 in a close game at Hale End last Tuesday, the first major decision of the season was made; U23s in Manchester (City) or the U18s at London Colney on Saturday, we went with the latter!
When you get the First Team, U23’s, U18’s and U16’s playing over 2 days, the lower year teams become thin due to the large squads needed, obviously for the first team, but also for the U23’s, especially as they travelled to Manchester on the Friday afternoon for their match against City.
My first outing to London Colney this season didn’t disappoint. The U18’s had a 14 year old in goal, the sub goalie got injured in the warm up therefore, a trialist keeper as well as others playing for the U16 match were also on the U18 bench!
For the record, the U18’s were 2-0 up at half time with Aston Villa pulling 2 back, before a couple near the end, saw us get a just-about deserved 4-2 win.
Sunday it was all change.
With my usual pub closing down, it meant a change of pre-match venue! Once the teams flashed up on one of the screens, I wasn’t overly surprised with the line up, but what was worried that it appeared to be a 4-3-3 formation which basically gives up midfield! Whilst I can see this working against lower opposition, it was never going to work against the Premier League Champions who without doubt have the strongest and best squad in the league, probably Europe!
Unusually, I left the pub an hour before kick-off, got a teamsheet from a press friend and was in my seat watching the warm ups for the first time ever at the Emirates Stadium.
Having watched all 5 first team friendlies live, it didn’t prepare me for what was unfolding in front of my eyes. I was shocked to see us playing the ball out from the back, I’d like to think we have been doing this in training, if we did, it certainly didn’t show on the pitch.
As the game progressed, Manchester City played their usual game, taking control with slick movement and precise passing, which was something we lacked.
Arsenal looked a far better side in the 2nd half once the substitutions were made, we were unlucky not to score. At the end of the day, it was Unai Emery’s first match in charge against a world class team. Manchester City will dominate almost every game they play in this season.
Emery’s Premier League baptism continues with a tough away game against Chelsea awaits, hopefully then, things can only get better……..