By Rob Kelly
Neil Banfield believes his players are still reaping the rewards of playing alongside the likes of Yossi Benayoun and Andrey Arshavin.
Arsenal Reserves are in fine form having won their past three games and go into Monday afternoon’s visit to Chelsea on the back of a morale-boosting 5-0 victory against Norwich.
A clutch of first-team players featured alongside a sprinkling of youth at Carrow Road, and Banfield was delighted with how his players combined.
“It was a first-class display,” he told Arsenal.com. “I was really pleased with the way we played, and the way the younger guys worked with the senior ones.
“There are things on the pitch that the senior players can teach the younger guys when they play alongside each other.
“It is really important to their development, as you get top-class international professionals passing on information and speaking to them. It is all a learning experience.
“They watched the way [the first-teamers] prepared before the game, and saw how focused they are and the fact that whatever game they play in they want to do the job properly.
“It also showed them what level they need to try to get to. Nothing but good has come from it. They all really enjoyed playing with the senior players.”
Banfield’s side face a major challenge against a Chelsea team that beat them 4-0 at London Colney in December and are managed by former Arsenal coach Dermot Drummy.
“It will be a big test going to Chelsea. We had a few chances against them earlier in the season, so to lose 4-0 was perhaps not the right result,” he said.
“But that's how it ended, and we will go there in a positive frame of mind and look to carry on the run we are on.
“Chelsea are a good side, they have good young players and play nice football. Tactically and technically I am expecting a decent game.
“There are a lot of similarities between the two sides because of Dermot being with us for so many years and then going across to Chelsea. He has had a big influence on the way they play.”
With the first team in action against AC Milan on Tuesday night, Banfield will name a far less experienced side than at Carrow Road and there is unlikely to be a place for Thomas Eisfeld.
The 19-year-old joined the Club from Borussia Dortmund on the final day of the January transfer window, but injured his knee in his first Reserves outing at Swansea.
“Thomas was pencilled in for a return in this game but I think he will just miss it,” said Banfield.Copyright 2013 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 4 Mar 2012