By Giuseppe Muro
Steve Bould insists the Under-18s’ disappointing results this term should not cloud the fact that their future looks bright.
At first glance the Academy League season has been a poor one - Arsenal have lost half of their 26 games to date - but the majority of Bould’s side are playing well above their age group.
Results have suffered as a consequence and the manager admits his youthful squad have struggled with the physical demands of facing more developed opponents. However, Bould expects to see long-term gain from this short-term pain.
“We are hoping that this year they have learnt a lot and next year they will be much better for it,” he told Arsenal.com. “It has been poor in terms of results this year but, in the end, I think we will all gain from it.
“On a general scale, we have been younger most weeks. It’s not an excuse by any means but it certainly doesn’t help. It took them an awful long time to come to terms with the physical side of the game and I think it affected their confidence a bit.
“Especially because we’re not the most physically-gifted group either, when you are fighting to keep hold of the ball and giving away goals it saps confidence a bit.
“It tests you an awful lot when you are getting beaten but we have gradually got better over the season. The results won’t tell you that, [because] we’ve had a really poor run of late, but some of the football is where we want it to be.
“It’s been a long, hard season [but] there are a lot of positives to look forward to and next year we should be stronger.”
The current Premier Academy League champions were unlucky to suffer a North London derby defeat at Tottenham on Saturday in a game the manager admits summed up their season.
But another positive aspect for Bould were the inclusions of Chuba Akpom and Jack Jebb - two highly-regarded youngsters who have made the premature step up from Under-16 level. Yet more evidence that the Club’s future is healthy.
“The most pleasing thing was people like Chuba and Jack got a game,” said Bould. “The future looks very bright with some of the young kids. So we can blood them next year and look forward.
“We have got one or two coming up like Chuba and Jack. Anthony Jeffrey has played a couple of games for us this year and has done awfully well.
“Being really honest, the results don’t matter. What does matter is that we produce players. Sprinkled within the group there are one or two who we have high hopes for.”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