Unsworth: Why U23s' Arsenal Win Was Best Of The Season

Late goals from Tom Cannon and Katia Kouyate gave Everton Under-23s a deserved win over Arsenal on Monday night – with boss David Unsworth’s describing his team’s display as “the best of the season so far”.

Everton mixed attacking flair with defensive resilience throughout the contest at  Southport FC’s Pure Stadium and created numerous opportunities before Cannon fired the Blues in front on 79 minutes.

Substitute Kouyate, who laid on Everton's opener, then made the points safe when he slotted home in stoppage time.

Under-23s boss Unsworth, who is also Everton Director of Academy, explained how the Arsenal victory capped an excellent weekend of results for the Blues’ age-group sides.

“We were outstanding in every department, and we should have had more goals,” he told evertonfc.com.

“We limited one of the best teams in the league to just one shot from outside the box. We carved them open numerous times and had great opportunities. We got the goals in the second half, which we deserved. 

“It’s been a great weekend for the Academy, with the Under-16s and Under-18s both beating Manchester United and us following it up with a great win over Arsenal. It shows you we’re doing well and I’m very happy with how all the teams are performing. 

“For us in the Under-23s, it’s hard to single anyone out because everyone was at the top of their game. 

“We had to be resolute and show great desire, but we also played some good football. We could have scored four or five to be honest. It was probably our best performance of the season.”

David Unsworth
We had to be resolute and show great desire. It’s hard to single anyone out because everyone was at the top of their game.

Unsworth also had words of praise for goalscorers Cannon and Kouyate, highlighting the pair’s attitude, application and quality.

“Tom has had to be patient and wait for his opportunity,” he added. 

“He’s worked really, really hard in training. He just epitomises what you want from a young player jumping from Under-18s to Under-23s, being patient and working hard. 

“He’s got his rewards for his hard work. I can’t praise him enough. He looked like a real proper number nine against Arsenal. 

“He was holding the ball up and linking play – which we’ve been working on with him – and he was such a threat in behind. He got the vital first goal and he’s always scored at every level.

“I’m a massive fan of Katia, too

“He’s had a tough time with injuries. He had a really bad hamstring injury at the start of the season and worked his socks off to get back. 

“Unfortunately, he had a re-injury, and we’ve had to be very cautious with him on his return and training load.

“He’s such a talented player and we just hope he’s over his injuries now and he can slowly build up. 

“He’s got great potential and he’s a great lad, so I was absolutely delighted for him to come on and make such a big impact.”