Wenger left U21 side a big problem against son of a former Invincible

Arsenal warm up

Arsenal's under-21 side lost to Reading last night, and had to make do without a striker.

It's not just Arsenal's senior side who have striker troubles. Ask the under-21s.

The Gunners took on Reading last night, without a win in 2014 over a month-and-a-half in, and they sit 14th of 22 teams in the table.

They were defeated 2-1, and their lack of a striker certainly did not help.

The previous game against Southampton, Yaya Sanogo led the line, but after his call-up to the senior squad to play in the weekend's FA Cup match, the Frenchman was unavailable for selection.

He was not the only one. Days earlier Arsenal had loaned out Chuba Akpom to League One club Coventry City for the rest of the season, while Benik Afobe is out on loan at Championship side Sheffield Wednesday.

It meant the Gunners had to make do with the trio of Ryo Miyaichi, Thomas Eisfeld and Jon Toral roaming into the position, but the experiment failed to result in a goal. Each are talented attacking midfielders, but not strikers.

With Sanogo's call-up to the first team seemingly a permanent one, and the duo out on loan not scheduled to return, it leaves a question over how Arsenal will set their side up over the rest of the season.

Reading coped well with Arsenal's attack, led by Niall Keown, son of former Invincible centre-back Martin. Arsenal's goal came from captain Isaac Hayden, himself playing at centre-back.

The decision to loan out Akpom and Afobe without a ready made option in step in, illustrates another less than enthusiastic view on how Premier League sides view the importance of the Under-21 league, despite it's recent attempts to re-form and become more competitive, and further changes are expected to it's format.

The lack of strikers could be good news for one young forward if he can step up, and that's teenager Austin Lipman, who has scored this season in the UEFA under-19 Youth League for the Gunners, and spent time out on loan with non-league Boreham Wood.

He featured on the bench against Reading and came on for the last half an hour, but couldn't find the equaliser.

When a Champions League match against Bayern is on the horizon, an under-21 match is clearly not the biggest priority to the club's senior squad - but if the club want to see their side higher up than 14th in the final league table, they may have to start playing Nicklas Bendtner as one of the eligible over-age players to give him some game time and keep him fit, if he really has been usurped by Sanogo in the first team pecking order.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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