Arsenal’s friendly against Brentford B on Wednesday may have been a rather low-key affair, but for some of the younger players involved it was a significant occasion.
With the majority of the first-team squad away on international duty, Mikel Arteta was only able to call upon a handful of senior players to start the game at London Colney, with Alexandre Lacazette, Rob Holding, Eddie Nketiah, Nuno Tavares and Bernd Leno involved.
Much of the talk after the game focused on Lacazette’s hat-trick, with Holding also scoring, but this was another opportunity for Arteta to assess the credentials of some of Arsenal’s talented youngsters.
Zak Swanson, who has frequently been on the bench in the Premier League in recent weeks, started at right-back, while centre-back Mazeed Ogungbo was also involved after impressing during the recent training camp in Dubai.
Charlie Patino, making his first appearance at any level since January after recovering from injury, was deployed alongside Miguel Azeez at the base of the midfield.
Notably there were starts for Charles Sagoe Jr and Bradley Ibrahim, two players who have caught the eye at U18 level this season. Sagoe Jr usually plays as an attacking midfielder or a winger and is very skilful, while Ibrahim is a defensive-midfielder who of late has been given some appearances as a centre-back.
Other youngsters were called up too, with striker Mika Biereth, midfielder Mauro Bandeira and winger Joel Ideho featuring as substitutes, while Jonathan Dinzeyi and Nathan Butler-Oyedeji were also on the bench along with 17-year-old left-back Lino Sousa, who recently joined from West Bromwich Albion.
Some of these players may not have been involved in normal circumstances as a significant amount of academy players were also on international duty, but it was still a valuable experience for those who featured as they looked to show that they should get chances in cup competitions next season.