In this week’s highlights, we have first team debuts and ‘Goal of the Day’ nominations…
What a week it’s been for Ben Sheaf! Ben returned from a long term injury and played 70 minutes for Arsenal U23’s in a 2-0 win against Sunderland U23’s at the Emirates on Monday evening. Ben started the game on the bench, but was brought on after just 20 minutes when Jeff Reine Adelaide was taken off due to an injury. Ben was excellent at the back and it appeared as if he’d never been away. After his uncertified man of the match performance, Ben then received the nod from Arsene Wenger and travelled with the first team to Serbia for the Gunner’s Europa game vs Red Star Belgrade. Shortly after Olivier Giroud scored the winning goal, Ben then made his first team debut, coming off the bench in the closing stages of the game! A huge achievement for Ben… The first team call ups continued when Arsenal played Norwich City in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday evening, however Ben was an unused sub.
Ryan Kent started his first game for SC Freiburg in an away fixture at the Allianz Arena last Saturday, as they took on the Bundesliga Champions, Bayern Munich! Ryan played extremely well and was the team’s stand out player, showing his pace and spark in spells throughout the game. Ryan’s best opportunity came in the first 15 minutes, when he was one-on-one with with Sven Ulreich but the keeper’s leg managed to keep out the shot. The game ended in defeat but Ryan’s talent, with a limited service, was an excellent accomplishment on the big stage.
Southend United’s narrow 1-0 win against Bury on Saturday will not be a match that lasts long in the memory. But two moments which certainly may be remembered both underline the immense talents of Shrimpers midfielder Ryan Leonard. The 25-year-old brilliantly bagged the only goal of an otherwise quite drab game when he curled home a stunning long range shot via the underside of the crossbar. The Sky Bet League One game seemed to be heading for a goalless draw but Leonard fired home from 25 yards six minutes from time to end the Shrimpers’ three-match winless streak.Watch Ryan’s top bin finish below here. The impressive effort, which came with just six minutes of the contest remaining, has quite rightly received widespread coverage – shortlisting him with the ‘Goal of the Day’ nomination and listed as one of the star men from League One, in their team of the week!
The second point to mention is Leonard’s determination to stop Bury midfielder Harry Bunn scoring when the game was still goalless was perhaps even more impressive and important. Bunn was seemingly clean through on goal following a quickly constructed counter-attack from a disastrous Michael Timlin free-kick. In such a scenario, not too many players would have the determination, the attitude or the athleticism to make up at least 30 yards during a 70 yard sprint to stop what had seemed a certain goal. The passage of play perfectly displayed Leonard’s unique attributes and showed just why he was wanted by Championship duo Millwall and Sheffield United in the summer.
Plymouth Argyle claimed only their second league win of the season as Joel Grant’s goal halted AFC Wimbledon’s momentum. Despite a late flurry of corners, Ryan Edwards and his team mates protected their new goalkeeper and their clean sheet to take three much-needed points back to Devon! Onwards and upwards for The Pilgrams, who will be hoping this is a turning point in their season.
Since joining the Canaries, Adam Phillips has gone from strength to strength. Phillips was awarded man of the match, as the U23s drew in a 1-1 draw against the Baggies the last week. Then on Friday the captain played at centre half and kept a clean sheet against Southampton U23’s in a 3-0 win at home. Phillips believes the inclusion of Academy players on the First Team bench is a great incentive for City’s youngsters. As reported in our previous round-up, Phillips was included in Daniel Farke’s 18-man squad for the Carabao Cup third round victory at Brentford and his midfield partner Todd Cantwell featured on the bench in the draw with Hull City on Saturday. Speaking after the U23s drew with West Bromwich Albion on Sunday, Phillips said: “All the lads are proud of me and Todd being on the bench and it shows once you do start playing well, you’re not that far away from being in the first team and being given that chance. It gives us all hope in training and when it comes to matchdays we have to show what we can do and hopefully the manager sees that and gives us a chance, like he has done with me and Toddy.”
U18’s Captain, Adam Lewis was a key man, yet again, for Steven Gerrard’s Liverpool U18’s, as they thrashed West Bromwich Albion U18’s 5-2 at Melwood. Adam came up with the goods, scoring one goal and assisting twice in the game. The young Reds are still undefeated in the league and sit 5th with 12 points, with 2 games in hand on their rivals Everton and 1 game in hand on Manchester United.