"I thought it was a difficult game because you've got some players thinking ahead to Barcelona and you've got some players who aren't playing in Barcelona.

"We set out what we wanted to do and I think we just lacked a bit of concentration on some of the goals and we were a bit sloppy. Overall we gave it everything over the 120 minutes and I felt we were slightly unlucky to go out."

That was Isaac Hayden's honest assessment of Arsenal Under-21s' League Cup semi-final defeat at the hands of Reading last weekend as their hopes of ending the season with silverware took a blow.

But according to the England youth international, there's still plenty to look forward to as the young Gunners enter the final third of their campaign.

Hopefully we can push up that league and the main thing is to get the winning mentality in everyone's head

Isaac Hayden

Despite their league form suffering a significant dip since the turn of the year, Steve Gatting's side have played the fewest games out of every side in the division and if they win all of their five games in hand they will sit just two points off leaders Fulham, giving themselves a genuine chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.

Of course, that is easier said than done but Hayden feels the under-21s are certainly capable of putting a winning run together.

"It's been difficult in the league because the team's not been stable," Hayden told Arsenal.com "It's been a very mixed squad with players playing for the first team or going on loan or playing in the Youth Cup.

"There's been all sorts of difficulties in that sense. I think we've produced some good results this season but we're just looking for that consistency now to the end of the season.

"Hopefully we can push up that league and the main thing is to get the winning mentality in everyone's head."

Isaac Hayden
Isaac Hayden
Hayden has been deployed in a more advanced midfield role in recent matches and has scored in their previous two outings. The under-21s skipper says he is enjoying the license to roam after spending much of his Arsenal career in a defensive capacity.

"Being a midfielder you want to have an all-round aspect to your game and trying to score more goals is definitely an aim," he said. "I've been practising my shooting a bit more in training and getting that feeling back of scoring goals.

"I had it when I was younger and I lost it a bit as I worked on the defensive side of my game and now it's starting to come back and I just need to carry on working on it."

Next up for Arsenal is the visit of West Ham to London Colney on Monday afternoon before they face a trip to White Hart Lane to play Tottenham on Friday. Hayden isn't looking beyond beating the Hammers and is confident that a more settled under-21s side will take three points.

"I know a few of their players who will be dangerous," the 18-year-old said. "They've got Blair Turgott whose played with me for England at youth level, they've got Elliot Lee who is a good friend of mine - he plays up front.

"But I think we've got more than enough in our team to cope with that and if we play to our potential and we defend as a team then we shouldn't have a problem."

We will have live tweets from London Colney from 1.55pm on the @Arsenal account.

Please note that attendance to this game is by invitation only.

Copyright 2014 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 Isaac Moore 21 Mar 2014