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Harsley’s young side demonstrated huge reserves of grit and character as they fought back from 3-1 down against last season’s champions to secure a remarkable 6-5 triumph at the Academy Stadium.
Given the calibre of their opponents last week plus the fact that the squad had little preparation time together augurs well for the trip to London and the rest of the campaign.
“It was a good start for the lads from a winning perspective. There was loads to take out of the game and we’ve cracked on since working towards West Ham this weekend,” said the EDS boss.
“Looking back, I’ve never been involved in a game like the Arsenal one before at this age group. It finished 6-5 but it could literally have been anything.
“Throw into the mix missed penalties, penalties that maybe could have been given, posts hit, saves made, chances missed… it was crazy.
“There was loads to look at, but our belief and character was great.
“At 3-1 down you could see that the Arsenal players looked a bit older, a bit bigger and a bit stronger than us and you felt maybe it could run away.
“But we refocused at half-time and I can’t speak highly enough of them.
“The Friday before the Arsenal game was the first time I had had all those players together. We’ve had one friendly game over in Breda so fair play to them.
“They really dug in and I’m so pleased we were able to take something away from the game, but we know there is a lot to work on.”
Harsley also had special words of praise for striker Nabil Touaizi who capped a fine all-round performance by scoring a superb hat-trick against the Gunners, including a cool finish to net the winner.
“I was really pleased for Nabil. We’re still getting to know these players, but he has got desire and hunger,” Harsley added.
“He works hard and puts himself in the way of things and all his goals he took really well.
“The first one was a lovely dink and the winner where he composed himself and let the opponent dive in was brilliant… especially at 5-5!
“So, I was really pleased for him.”
The Blues take on West Ham United away on Sunday 19 August, kick-off at 1pm. Follow our Twitter account: @ManCityAcademy for live updates of the game.
Paul Harsley’s EDS side began their league campaign with a remarkable 6-5 win over reigning champions Arsenal.
City’s EDS squad kick-off our 2018/19 season at home to reigning champions Arsenal at the Academy Stadium at 1pm on Saturday 11 August.