Arsenal U23s started their season with a 3-1 victory away to Blackburn Rovers last night, with Folarin Balogun hitting a hat-trick.
The Hale End product, who has now stepped up from the U18s on a full-time basis, was hugely impressive for the U23s in pre-season and has now taken that form into the real action.
Two of Balogun’s goals against Blackburn were penalties, with the other coming from a rebound after he had missed a spot-kick.
What was especially impressive, though, was the fact that the striker won two of the penalties himself, with his pace and trickery proving extremely difficult for the Blackburn defenders to deal with.
With Eddie Nketiah having joined Leeds United on loan, Balogun will hope to establish himself as the first choice striker for Steve Bould’s side this season.
The 18-year-old faces considerable competition in that regard from Tyreece John-Jules, who was only fit enough to make the bench last night.
John-Jules, who has already featured for the first-team in friendlies, is also capable of operating out wide or in the number ten position, meaning there is a possibility that both he and Balogun could start regularly.
Balogun will have aspirations of getting called up to the first-team squad at some point this season, with opportunities likely to be available in the Europa League, especially if senior players are out injured.
The season has started in excellent fashion for Balogun, but he will be determined to not rest on his laurels and will be aiming to follow in the footsteps of Nketiah by maintaining his clinical nature in front of goal while stepping up to the U23s.