By Declan Taylor
Steve Bould has called upon his side’s “character” ahead of their Premier Academy League Final against Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday.
Arsenal got to this stage the hard way, with a Semi-Final victory against Manchester City at Eastlands last Friday. Despite a tirade of pressure from the hosts, the Gunners managed to nick a 2-1 victory courtesy of substitute Rhys Murphy’s late strike.
Bould made no secret of his disappointment with Arsenal’s performance on the night but he was pleased with his side’s resilience in the face of a dangerous City outfit.
The young Gunners have shown their true colours against Spurs already this season when, after going behind in March’s FA Youth Cup Quarter-Final at the Lane, Kyle Bartley equalised after the break before two last-gasp goals catapulted Arsenal into the last four.
For the Under-18s boss, similar character will be vital this time around.
“I think the most important thing is mental character.” Bould told Arsenal.com.
“The one thing that has come out of all these big games this season is we’ve seen that quite a few of these kids do have the character to go on and make good careers.
“They’ve certainly shown that, as a team, they can handle the big pressure and they’ve got the character required to become big players hopefully.
“But I just hope we haven’t peaked too early. That’s the thing I am worrying about. We haven’t played well in the last couple of games and we’re hoping they can get their minds back on it and start playing like they have for most of the season.
“It will be really tight against Spurs and I know they’ll be desperate to beat us. It’s another great experience for the kids back down at White Hart Lane and it should be another high-level game.”
For Bould’s boys, the Premier League crown is not the only prize up for grabs on Sunday. With the FA Youth Cup Final and July’s pre-season tour on the horizon, motivation should not be a problem at the other end of Seven Sisters Road.
“Number one we want to win it and number two we’re now looking towards the Youth Cup games,” said the manager. “We want to get back at a level we know we can perform at. We hope that would enable us to go on and win it.
“That pre-season tour is always in the back of their minds. We reminded them that the gaffer will be looking to take one or two away with them.
“He takes massive notice of the players who perform in these games.”
And surely that, above all else, will propel these boys to their best on Sunday afternoon.
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