Joe Willock scored twice as the Arsenal under-18’s got their top four push back on track with a comfortable victory against Southampton at London Colney on Saturday.

YouTube: U18 HIGHLIGHTS: Arsenal 4-0 Southampton

With Ryan Huddart required to play for the under-21’s on Friday, 16-year-old George Phillips was given his debut at this level in his place. Early on, he was very nearly embarrassed when Jake Vokins early cross from the left-hand side caught a freakish gust of wind and bounced onto the top of the crossbar.

After their early scare, Arsenal began to settle into the game and took the lead midway through the first half. Joshua DaSilva found Donyell Malen on the edge of the area, and the Dutchman showed superb footwork to breeze away from two defenders before attempting a pirouette in the area. He was brought down, but before the referee could award a penalty DaSilva tucked away the loose ball. The teenager has excelled since being played further back in a deep midfield role, and could well make inroads towards the under-21 side next season.

It wasn’t long before Arsenal doubled their lead, and it came courtesy of a move of real quality. Malen picked out Yassin Fortune on the right side, who rolled the ball on to Aaron Eyoma. He threaded the ball through to find the run of Willock, who finished emphatically past the helpless Harry Lewis for his first under-U18 goal.

If Willock’s first goal was an incisive team move, his second just before half-time was a piece of individual brilliance. After a sustained spell of pressure, Willock picked the ball up 25-yards out and with nothing really happening ahead of him, went for goal and unleashed a vicious strike that dipped in the wind to leave Lewis flapping at thin air.

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Southampton hit the crossbar for the second time just after the interval when Jordi Osei-Tutu made a mess of his clearance in the Arsenal penalty area allowing Joe Lea to nip in but he could only smack his shot against the crossbar.

The rest of the second half was less eventful as the young stars of the future took their foot off the gas but there was still time for Malen to get a deserved goal when his speculative effort from just outside the area somehow squeezed in to the net through the fingers of Lewis.

The Young Gunners now need two points from their remaining two games to ensure a top-four finish.