Southampton’s B team make their debut under their new name as they travel to Arsenal on Friday, with the 2020/21 Premier League 2 season getting underway.
Arsenal U23s vs Saints B team
The Arsenal Training Centre
Premier League 2
Friday 11th September, 3:00pm BST
Featuring in their second successive PL2 season, Dave Horseman’s side travel to Arsenal looking to learn from their difficult first campaign in the division last year.
Before the division was cancelled, Saints occupied 11th place in the division, with just the four wins from 18 games as they began to find their feet against the experienced opposition of this level.
Arsenal’s Under-23s formed one of those sides with plenty of PL2 experience, but they too suffered a tricky 2019-20 campaign, finishing 6th with just six wins under the guidance of manager Steve Bould.
This year’s PL2 campaign see’s West Ham and Manchester United come up as just Wolves made way, meaning 13 teams now occupy the division.
Due to COVID-19 bringing the 2019-20 season to a premature end, the two sides only met the once last season; Arsenal narrowly beating Saints 1-0 at Boreham Wood back in November 2019.
Despite Horseman’s side pushing the Gunners all the way, striker Tyreece John-Jules scored the eventual winner a minute shy of the interval.
Saints went close a couple of times during the afternoon through both Christian Norton and a Christoph Klarer header, but couldn’t find an equaliser.
Goalkeeper Tommy Scott made sure the score line was kept to just one in the dying minutes, saving a John-Jules penalty to cap off an impressive afternoon between the sticks.
With plenty of changes happening to the Under-23s set up recently, Horseman reflected on his and his side’s targets for the season ahead.
“Our first and biggest aim this season will be to make sure when we play we replicate the style of play of the first team, to aid the smooth transition of our players to the first team.
“Secondly we want to be super competitive in every game, and lastly we want to keep providing opportunities for our most talented players to play. I think these are three decent aims for the season.
On Friday’s opposition, Horseman said: “Arsenal are one of the elite academies. Last year we only played them once but I thought they were one of the best teams we played.
“They’re very talented individuals, very good attacking wise and also physically very strong. They’re coached by an individual who’s followed one of the best coaches in the world for years and was a top, top player himself.”
“So it’s one of the toughest games to open the new season but it will be a real test to see where we are.”