Cedric Evina is relishing his role as Arsenal’s Youth Cup skipper but he has warned that the Under-18s need to be at the top of their game to see off Ipswich next week.

The Frenchman led the Under-18s to a thrilling Third-Round victory over Crewe Alexandra last month as the young Gunners came from behind three times before winning a nail-biting penalty shoot-out at Underhill.

Evina will captain Arsenal when they continue the defence of their trophy against Ipswich next Tuesday - and the 18-year-old is expecting an even tougher test this time.

“We are the defending champions and that brings added pressure because other teams tend to raise their game, but we have a lot of faith in our ability and each other,” Evina told the Official Matchday Programme.

“We have Ipswich to play next and they are a really good team, we have played them twice already this year, once in pre-season and once in the league and they have beaten us both times. We did not really get our game together in both games and so we know we will have to be at our best to get through.

“The responsibility [of being captain] helps me though. I feel I have to lead by example and that means I have to aim for the highest standards if I want the rest of the team to do the same.

“Having that focus has helped me come on in my own game. I have a lot more to my game now. I don’t have to be so dependent on my pace and that has made me a better all-round player both in defence and attack.“

This interview first appeared in the Official Matchday Programme. You can subscribe to the Matchday Programme by calling 08700 20 20 20.

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12 Jan 2010