By Joe Brewin
Arsenal Reserves will be on the hunt for back-to-back victories when Norwich City’s second string visit London Colney on Tuesday afternoon.
Neil Banfield’s young Gunners took all three points against Fulham last week thanks to goals from Oguzhan Ozyakup and Sanchez Watt.
The victory put Arsenal second in the Reserve League South - and an encouraged Banfield says more of the same would suit him just fine.
“It was a good win against Fulham and it's nice now to have another game a week after the last one,” he told Arsenal.com. “We're looking forward to it and hopefully we can keep it going.
“We just want a continuation of our ability to keep the ball - and this time maybe be a bit more aggressive in our possession - and look to get the ball forward a little earlier to create a few more chances. Again it's all about raising the level of our performance.
“With us having the game on the Tuesday we've been focused on working hard [through the international break]. We did let them have the weekend off but they were back in on Monday and we can look forward to the game.”
Norwich have struggled in the division so far, taking just one victory from their opening nine matches.
The Canaries are expected to field another youthful line-up at Colney on Tuesday but Banfield believes there is no such thing as a smooth ride at this level.
“There are no easy games, you have to take every team on their merits and values,” he said. “Norwich will be well-organised, will work hard and it will be a tough game.
“Whoever they will put out against us we are expecting another difficult fixture.
“I think the lads are all fully aware of what these games are all about. They are for their development and their developmental pathway to either get into Arsenal's first-team squad, to impress the manager or get themselves out on loan.”
The last few weeks have seen several of Steve Bould’s rising Under-18s make the step up to Reserve level, with Zak Ansah in particular enjoying game time in Banfield’s successful set-up.
The 17-year-old is poised for a spot on the substitutes' bench once more alongside fellow youngsters Sean McDermott and Josh Rees.
“Christmas time is big for the Club - we use it as a turnover time,” said Banfield. “Some of the lads will have been with us for a year or so and sometimes it can be time for them to head out on loan if the manager feels it's right for them.
“He makes the decision when and where but now is usually about the time we start to have a closer look at the next generation coming through.
“At the moment we're just on the fringes of that. We've still got a few games left this month but I think in December time you'll start to see some of them make their way into the Reserve team.
“Steve's got another good crop on his hands this season and the conveyor belt of youngsters carries on. We work very closely and we all work as a group. The Club is very strong.”
Manuel Almunia is poised for his first match action since returning from a loan spell at West Ham, while Emmanuel Frimpong gets another start in the centre of midfield.
Chuks Aneke looks set to return after missing the Fulham victory through injury, with Luke Freeman and Watt ready to continue their blossoming partnership up front.Copyright 2017 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source