Despite taking the lead in the first-half through Reiss Nelson, his second goal in successive games against the Bulgarian side, the Young Guns were unable to effectively see the game out and succumbed to a frustrating 1-1 draw after Preslav Petrov’s second-half effort despite creating a number of chances after the interval.
Andries Jonker named a strong starting eleven on the afternoon, meaning the likes of Vlad Dragomir and Edward Nketiah were both among the substitutes’ on the bench as opposed to starters this time around.
On matchday four, Trae Coyle was afforded his first start at this level whilst Jeff Reine-Adélaïde was a surprise inclusion – his first of the campaign in the competition. There were early signs of attacking prowess beginning to rise within the side, as Nelson and Donyell Malen both squandered promising opportunities.
However it was the former who opened the scoring. Firing a strike goalwards from the far post having evaded his marker in the build-up, goalkeeper Daniel Naumov was left with no chance as Arsenal’s early showing was duly rewarded.
Malen should’ve done better to divert his header goalwards after an incisive delivery by Marc Bola, but the Dutchman could only angle it wide.
As the second-half began, a change was made at fullback. The versatile Savvas Mourgos came on in place of Bola at left-back for his first taste of UEFA Youth League action this term.
Unsurprisingly, the Young Guns were enjoying the lion share of possession and began to create more chances in the final third. Reine-Adélaïde came close whilst Malen missed two more opportunities, it was becoming increasingly evident that 1-0 was a dangerous scoreline with the hosts looking threatening on the counter-attack.
Yuriy Vasev’s youngsters made their counterparts rue early missed chances when Petrov levelled the scoring inside the area with just over 15 minutes to play.
The inclusion of Dragomir was too late it seemed, as Arsenal couldn’t regain the lead in the latter stages. Krystian Bielik’s half-volley hit the crossbar in the final few minutes of normal time and just like that, Arsenal found themselves in a precarious position as the full-time whistle blew at the Georgi Asparuhov Stadium.
PSG’s 3-2 away win over Basel pushes them even further ahead of the chasing pack so to speak, and last year’s finalists now sit on ten points from four games. Basel, who snatched a cruel away victory over their own at the expense of Arsenal previously, have a point more than the Young Guns.
With a home clash against the group leaders up next, this disappointing result means it’s a must-win fixture for Andries Jonker’s side.