#under18s: Man Utd fail to score for first time since September in 3-0 loss to Arsenal

Man Utd 0-3 Arsenal

Scorer(s): Joe Willock ’15, ’74, Yassin Fortune ’90+5

Man Utd XI: Richardson; Kenyon, Warren, Dunne, Barrett; Hamilton, Whelan; Bohui, Gribbin,  Dearnley (Makela ’81) ; Burkart (Garner ’68)
Arsenal XI: Virginia; Osei-Tutu, McGuane, Olowu, Bola; Medley, Dasilva; Willock, Nelson, Malen; Nketiah.

A brace from Joe Willock, brother of Man United under-23s midfielder Matty, secured a 3-0 win for Arsenal at Altrincham’s J Davidson Stadium on Wednesday afternoon. It’s the first time this United side have failed to score since September, and only the second time this season.

Man United dominated early proceedings despite a rather weak attacking lineup due to a number of injuries and players on international duty. Angel Gomes, Indy Boonen, DJ Buffonge, Tahith Chong, Iliad Moutha-Sebtaoui, Ro-Shaun Williams, George Tanner (injured in the warm-up) were missing through injury, and a few others, while Lee O’Connor (Republic of Ireland) and Aidan Barlow (England) are on international duty at the under-17 European Championships in Croatia.

Arsenal goalkeeper Virginia, who was on trial at Utd a few years ago, made a number of good saves to deny United’s forwards early on. Nishan Burkart and Josh Bohui had a number of chances saved in the opening 15 minutes. 

However, Willock gave Arsenal an undeserved lead. After poor positioning from United goalkeeper Theo Richardson, Willock finished in the space Richardson had left for the opener. 

It was a blow to United, having dominated the early proceedings and Kieran McKenna’s side barely recovered. Even after half-time United couldn’t seem to gain a rhythm as they showed early on. In the final half-hour or so, it was one way traffic for this strong Arsenal side.

Willock grabbed a second for his and Arsenal’s tally to secure the win. He stormed past Tyrell Warren and finished through Richardson’s legs with 15 minutes remaining. 

That ensured a second defeat for United in six U18 Premier League Merit Group One fixtures (for more on the format, see here). After 2-2 draws against both Man City and Liverpool in the first games of the play-offs, United now have a record of: DDLWWL, and hopes of being champions are over. 

Arsenal, meanwhile, remain unbeaten and added a third through substitute Fortune. A rebound fell to the Arsenal man and he duly finished. L

James Garner made his debut at this level for United, replacing Nishan Burkart on 68 minutes. The under-16s captain can play in both central midfield and defence and has impressed at lower levels. 

McKenna’s side don’t play this weekend, but play Blackburn Rovers next and will hopefully have a number of players returning from injury.