Sunderland’s Paddy McNair and Josh Maja get valuable playing time in Arsenal defeat

Paddy McNair
Paddy McNair

Paddy McNair and Josh Maja got minutes under their belts in Sunderland Under-23s’ 2-0 defeat at Arsenal tonight.

McNair returned to action after injury in the win against Hertha Berlin last week, while Maja lined up against the Gunners.

The 18-year-old striker had impressed in pre-season before getting injured, but after knee surgery and returning to action he will hope to give manager Simon Grayson another option up front soon.

The Gunners selected a strong team including Francis Coquelin, Chuba Akpom and former Newcastle defender Matthieu Debuchy.

The first half was fairly even, with much of the game played out in midfield.

Arsenal edged possession with Coquelin showing his class, though he provided a good a test for McNair who did well.

The home side created the first opening on 11 minutes as keeper James Talbot made good blocks before the danger was finally cleared.

Just before half-time, Debuchy headed in but the goal was disallowed for a foul inside the box.

McNair was replaced by Adam Bale at the break, while Arsenal took off Debuchy and Coquelin.

The home side broke the deadlock three minutes into the period when Akpom picked out Vlad Dragomir, who fired into the top corner past James Talbot.

Maja was replaced after 60 minutes, with sub Luke Molyneux going close with a good shot.

Arsenal’s Ben Sheaf skipped into the box only to be denied, with Tolaji Bolo then forcing Talbot into a low save.

Sunderland’s best chance came when Joel Asoro squared the ball to Molyneux in front of goal, only for keeper Dejan Iliev to save.

With 13 minutes left on the clock, Arsenal sealed the win with Akpom finishing well to wrap up the points.

Arsenal: Iliev, Osei-Tutu, Reine-Adelaide (Sheaf 20), Debuchy (Medley 46), Olowu, Dasilva, Dragomir, Coquelin (Bola 46), Akpom, McGuane, Nketiah.

Sunderland: Talbot, Gamble, Hume, Beadling, Taylor, Embleton, McNair (Bale 45), Diamond (Nelson 75), Greenwood, Asoro, Maja (Molyneux 60).

Subs not used: Storey, Woud.