Arsenal U23s secured a hugely impressive 6-1 victory away to their Chelsea counterparts today, with Mika Biereth scoring a hat-trick, while Folarin Balogun got a brace and Blues goalkeeper Lucas Bergstrom scored an own goal following a corner from Salah-Eddine.
Although they had to cope with the red card of Omar Rekik in the 35th minute, Arsenal defended well for the most part and there certainly appears to be more structure to the team under coach Kevin Betsy.
The Arsenal youngsters have taken time to get used to Betsy’s methods and there were some teething problems in the 6-1 defeat to West Ham United in his first game in charge, but now matters certainly seem to be heading in the right direction.
One player who is benefitting from Betsy’s guidance is Joel Lopez, with the Spanish defender, who operates as a left wing-back in the current system, having produced some encouraging displays recently.
Lopez’s attacking attributes have never been in doubt as he is a fantastic crosser of the ball, but there are longstanding concerns regarding his defensive qualities, especially with regards to his positioning.
The 19-year-old has shown some signs of improvement of late, however, and is making impressively timed interceptions with regularity.
It had been anticipated that Lopez would go on loan in the summer transfer window but that didn’t materialise and a temporary switch in January is now a possibility.
Last season Lopez managed to get on the bench for the first-team against Slavia Prague in the Europa League but wasn’t really ready for further involvement.
If he can continue to progress with the U23s and then enjoy a productive loan spell, Lopez will put himself in a good position to challenge for a place in the senior squad.