By Declan Taylor

Arsenal Under-18s captain Jay Emmanuel-Thomas believes that the FA Youth Cup provides a perfect opportunity for the young Gunners to secure their long-term future at the Club.

Steve Bould’s boys currently lead holders Manchester City 2-1 in the Semi-Final after coming from behind to win at Eastlands in March. On Wednesday night, five weeks later, the sides will finally settle the tie when they meet at Emirates Stadium.

Emmanuel-Thomas, who has not missed a minute of Youth Cup action yet this season, thinks that performing well at the pinnacle of Academy football is the perfect way to stake your claim for a professional contract.

“Everyone has to show the boss what they can do and this is the time to do it,” the midfielder explained to Arsenal.com.

“People from around the first-team set-up come to these Youth Cup games so we need to show them that we can push on if we’re going to get any more contracts and stuff.”

The 18-year-old has scored in four of Arsenal’s five Youth Cup outings this season but he was keen to attribute his personal success to the overall togetherness in the squad.

“Our team has grown a lot,” Jay continued. “With the travelling and whatnot there is a lot more team bonding and it brings us all together as a unit.

“We have learned so much. We know that even at a goal down you can still go through. Also when you’re leading you have to keep going to make sure you don’t let them back in.

“Overall I think our team is getting very strong.”

Arsenal face Manchester City in the FA Cup Youth Cup Semi-Final second leg at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday. Click here for ticket information and click here for news of our live audio coverage.

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 21 Apr 2009