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Brian Okonkwo debuts, Arsenal U21s, 8-goal thriller vs. Aston Villa; Nwaneri scores twice

Posted : 16 April 2024

Brian Okonkwo, a promising goalkeeper from Nigeria, made his debut for Arsenal U21s in a Premier League 2 match against Aston Villa at Meadow Park in Hertfordshire on Monday evening. Hailing from a family with a goalkeeping background, Brian follows in the footsteps of his elder brother Arthur Okonkwo, who also plays as a goalkeeper for Arsenal. Arthur recently earned recognition as the best goalkeeper in League Two for the 2023-2024 season, showcasing the family's talent between the goalposts.

While Brian had been loaned out to Isthmian Premier League side Cheshunt last month until the end of the season, he continued training with the Arsenal academy as part of the loan agreement terms. Despite this, his dedication and skill earned him a call-up to the Arsenal U21s for the first time, marking a significant milestone in his career at just 18 years old.

In his debut match, Brian played the full duration of the game as Arsenal U21s suffered a 5-3 defeat against Aston Villa. Alongside Brian, other players of Nigerian heritage like history-making attacking midfielder Ethan Nwaneri and striker Nathan Butler-Oyedeji started for Arsenal, while Chisom Afoka represented the visitors, Aston Villa.

Although Arsenal initially took the lead with an own goal by Aidan Borland, Aston Villa managed to turn the game around and secure three points. Aston Villa's Kyrie Pierre and Kobei Moore each scored twice, with Travis Patterson adding another goal, establishing a commanding four-goal lead by the 76th minute.

Despite the challenging circumstances, Nwaneri showcased his skill by scoring a stunning goal into the top corner in the 86th minute, reducing the deficit for Arsenal. In added time, he scored his second goal of the game from close range, demonstrating his prowess on the field.

With this defeat, Arsenal, currently sixth in the Premier League 2 standings, look to bounce back in their next game against Blackburn Rovers on Monday, April 22.




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