Second Year Scholar
Height: 5ft 11ins
Weight: 12st 5lb
By Lambros Lambrou
Everything the striker touches turns to goals. He was barely on the pitch a few moments against Chelsea at the start of October before firing home two goals in two minutes to follow his goal against Fulham the previous week.
“I am feeling very confident right now and I think I have a more calm approach to my game, compared to last season," Roberts said. "It is all down to the work being done in training and the extra finishing practice that we do, especially recently. I go on to a pitch believing I will score because I am prepared and that is why we work on finishing, runs and team play all week,
The 17 year-old is reaping the benefit of his hard work, but also patience. The youngster fractured one of his metatarsals last season and was out for over three months.
“I broke my foot in training. I went to make a pass and tripped, went over on my foot and broke it. It came at a time when I was getting a run in the team but there was nothing I could do. I had to be patient. I was only on crutches for a couple of weeks and then I was working in the gym and after a while it became routine and so the time didn’t drag on as much in the end.
“It was not only the physical injury but I had to handle things psychologically too,” he continues. “I remember that when I came back, I was protecting it and even adapting the way I moved to put less pressure on it, which started causing my knee to tighten up. I realised that I was being too protective, to the point that I was reluctant to go into tackles. After a while though my foot became less of a concern and with more work it strengthened up and I began using it properly so that my knee got better too.
“Also,” the youngster adds, “on the advice of the doctor I changed football boots as he said that the ones I used to use did not support the foot well enough. The result is that I am now back, playing freely with a lot of confidence and as a result I have scored five times in about as many games this season.”
That feeling of confidence is also prevalent in the Under-18s team this season, says Philip. “We seem to have settled now. There is a more relaxed atmosphere this season as I think everyone has got used to the set up and what is expected. “There are also a lot of new very talented players in the team and we are all integrating well and the second years do as much as possible to help them settle in.”
Phil joined Arsenal from Norwich at the beginning of last season and is not surprised that the Canaries are now in the top flight.
“I could see that Paul Lambert was going to turn the club around as soon as he joined Norwich and they are very much there on merit. I still keep in contact with some of the lads I was in their Academy with and they are feeling very positive about things and I do hope that they do well in the Premier League this season,” says the attacker.
The academy scholar has yet to secure a professional contract and that is clearly his main target: “I am here and doing what I can to secure a professional contract with Arsenal and my focus is to give everything,” he confirms. “I also want to play my way in to the FA Youth Cup team and play regularly for the Reserves. I am playing well at the moment but my aim is to continue to improve and do well with Arsenal and,” he concludes, “my hope is that everything else will follow”.
Teams you played for before Arsenal?
Norwich City, Leyton, Lakeview
Best advice ever?
If a task is once begun, never leave it till it’s done, be the task great or small, do it well or not at all
Best football moment before joining Arsenal?
Scoring against Arsenal when I played for Norwich
Supported growing up?
Who did you pretend to be on the playground?
Favourite kids’ TV show growing up?
Dragon Ball Z and Power Rangers
Favourite teacher at school?
Mr O’Brien at Ilford County High School
Other sports good at?
Most influential on your football career so far?
Other clubs interested before signing for Arsenal?
Liverpool, Aston Villa, Reading and Tottenham
Fave item of clothing?
Aston Martin Vanquish
Current player who’s a role model?
Robin van Persie
Best thing about being part of the Academy?
Three words to describe you as a player?
Fast, strong, brave
Three words to describe you as a person?
Funny, lively, chilled out
Most talented team-mate?
I can’t separate them
Who do you follow on Twitter?
Giggs (the rapper), Piers Morgan, Nicki Minaj