Chambers returns to partner Saliba as Arsenal U21s down Gillingham

Arsenal’s academy side returned to action this evening, with a number of players familiar with the club’s first-team setup having lined out for Steve Bould’s men.

Gills downed from 12 yards

The Gunners’ U21s made the trip to Gillingham a short time ago, for their latest EFL Trophy (known as the Papa John’s Trophy for sponsorship reasons) outing.

Arsenal headed into proceedings aware that a positive result would see them guaranteed top spot in the Group J table, on the back of a solid campaign to date.

And, when all was said and done at Priestfield, secure a positive result was precisely what the visitors managed.

The evening’s scoring was opened with just 6 minutes on the clock, courtesy of highly-regarded Arsenal teenager Catalin Cirjan.

Gillingham, though, went on to level things up. And, bizarrely, it was a Gunners-owned player who found the net.

Trae Coyle, on loan with the League One outfit for the 2020/21 campaign, notched against his parent club 10 minutes into the 2nd-half.

The two sides could not be separated over the remaining half-hour+, eventually resulting in a penalty shootout to decide the destination of the game’s bonus point.

And, in the end, it was Bould’s youngsters who held their nerve, as successful spot-kicks from all of Folarin Balogun, Nikolaj Moller, Ben Cottrell and the aforementioned Cirjan guided Arsenal to a 4-2 shootout win.

Familiar faces

Whilst tonight’s result of course marks a positive for all associated with the club, the majority of Arsenal’s fans will likely be more intrigued by some of those to have taken to the pitch versus Gillingham.

Up top, Folarin Balogun, recently handed his first-team debut by Mikel Arteta, led the line.

Emile Smith-Rowe, who showcased flashes of his immense potential across a series of senior appearances last season, was also included in midfield.

Emile Smith-Rowe

LONDON, ENGLAND – NOVEMBER 08: Emile Smith-Rowe of Arsenal in action during the UEFA Europa League Group E match between Arsenal and Sporting Lisbon at Emirates Stadium on November 08, 2018 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Matt Macey, who stood in as backup to Emi Martinez on the back of the injury picked up by Bernd Leno in 2019/20, was chosen between the posts.

The most notable pair to have lined out for Steve Bould’s men, though, came at the heart of the Gunners’ defence.

William Saliba, whom an increasing number of Arsenal fans have of course called for to be handed his first-team bow of late, was opted for on the left.

And, encouragingly, the Frenchman was partnered by Calum Chambers, who took to the pitch for the first time since last December, when the stopper ruptured his ACL.

Saliba played the full 90 minutes at Priestfield, looking full of confidence stepping out of defence with the ball, whilst Chambers was replaced by Levi Laing at the interval, as the Englishman eases back into competitive action.

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Arsenal’s academy side returned to action this evening, with a number of players familiar with the club’s first-team setup having lined out for Steve Bould’s men. Gills downed from 12 yards The Gunners’ U21s made the trip to Gillingham a short time ago, for their latest EFL Trophy (known as the Papa John’s Trophy forFootball (soccer) greatest goals and highlights | 101 Great Goals – Feed

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