Pre-Match Report

Reserves: Aston Villa v Arsenal - Preview

Neil Banfield

By Joe Brewin

“Sometimes you still wonder what happened there, I don't know what it was.”

That was the frank admission of Neil Banfield on the eve of Arsenal Reserves’ visit to Aston Villa on Wednesday night. The second-string manager needs no reminder of what happened when his players last made that journey – the 10-1 scoreline speaks for itself – but Banfield believes it was a one-off.

“It was maybe a culmination of many things, but the one thing for sure is that Villa did very well,” he told ”They were very strong and played their game correctly.

“But we take every game the same, we don't get too involved in results. It was obviously an embarrassing scoreline but we try and deal with it and just move on.”

This of course is a new Arsenal team and one that is performing to a high standard in the Reserve League South this term. Banfield’s side have just lost just one game all season - against a vastly-experienced West Brom side. Last time out they claimed a hard-earned point at Wolves, a fixture Banfield believes had many positives.

“It was a good game,” he said. “We've gone over the DVD of it and it was very positive. We were really pleased with it. We just want to take a continuation of what we've been doing all year and the way we're playing at the moment into this one.

“Villa are always extremely strong and work very hard with the development of their young players. Over the years we've had some really cracking games against them.”

With Luke Freeman, Sanchez Watt and Chuks Aneke all now out on loan, the door is open for some of Steve Bould’s rising stars from the Under-18s.

The likes of Zak Ansah, Josh Rees and Samir Bihmoutine have all been involved in the Reserves set-up over recent weeks and Banfield says he works closely with Bould to determine exactly who to promote.

“I think they're all good players,” he said. “I've worked with Steve closely and most days we're together and we see quite a lot of them.

“I ask them who is doing well and what he thinks - it all has to be done on merit. All the lads have worked extremely hard and some of them are going to get the opportunity to get to the next level.

“A lot of the times over the last month we have been going together [in training] because we have the change coming. We like to have a look at them before we make the jump.

“We say it's not about the result but it is obviously a results game we're in,” he added. “We are in the game of developing young players and with that comes winning.

“If you're not going to be a winner you're not going to be a player, simple as. To be a top-class player you have to be a very strong-minded, winning person.”

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