By Lambros Lambrou
Birmingham City are today's opponents, and one of our Young Guns will be keeping a close eye on two of the visiting midfielders. Kerrea Gilbert captained the youth team in which both Sebastian Larsson and Fabrice Muamba were integral members.
"It's going to be really strange to see them playing against us," says Kerrea. "They are both good guys and good friends. I want them to do well but at the same time I want us to win. I am so pleased that they are doing well and in fact they give me and the other players who played with them a lot of encouragement. They are young players but they are more than holding their own in the Premiership. Seb has scored a few crucial goals and Fabrice is getting known for his powerful runs from midfield. I enjoy watching them, I like to cheer them on, but I will have a big dilemma come kick off," he smiles.
Kerrea has himself come back from a loan spell with Southend which followed his time with Cardiff last season and during those assignments there were both highs and lows, reports the youngster.
"Last season I was with Cardiff and we were doing really well. We were top of the league, I was playing really well and building up a good relationship with the fans and I know the manager, Dave Jones, liked me. I was enjoying myself, doing well but then got sent off. I was out because of a ban and then during that time I picked up a shoulder injury. I came back to Arsenal for treatment and then had a couple of sessions with our fitness guy Tony Colbert, before going back to Cardiff. I wasn't really match fit as I hadn't played for a few months. I went straight in and did okay, but because I wasn't ready I picked up an injury and that was the story for the rest of the season. As soon as I would come back into the team I'd pick up another injury. I played 26 games, but the final part of the season was very stop-start."
Kerrea has just returned from Southend and played his first game for a couple of months in the Reserves the other day:
"I started quite well at Southend and had a run of games, but again picked up another injury. Then when I was fit again I found it difficult to get back in the team because the right back Lewis Hunt was playing really well. It was the right thing because if I had been in his position and playing well and then the manager dropped me to make room for someone on loan, then I would have been upset. Therefore, for the sake of my development as a player, I had to come back to Arsenal."
Since his return, the 20 year-old, who has always been an Arsenal fan, is clearly happy to be back:
"I'm not being disrespectful to Southend and I learnt a lot about life as a professional footballer on and off the pitch, but the facilities we have here are just a different class. From the training facilities, to the food at the training ground and the type of football we play. The problem for players like those at Southend is that they can all play with the ball on the ground, but it's the nature of the game at that level that the ball spends a lot of time in the air and physical strength is paramount. I had no problem with that, a job had to be done, but it's nice to be playing football the way Arsenal try to do.
"Now I'm back I am want to get my head down and work hard to get back to full fitness and show Arsenal what I can do. I think that a loan spell is not out of the question to help me keep developing, but I believe that I have the ability to make it as a right-back at Arsenal. I have tasted first team football and I know I did well and I'm going to work hard to put myself in contention again. I know that there are a lot of players vying for the right back spot, but I am happy with that because I know I can compete, and, concludes Kerrea, "that will be my focus for the remainder of this season."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 16 Jan 2008