By Rob Kelly
Momentum is a much-valued commodity in football. Find it, and success tends to follow. And Arsenal’s Under-21s certainly have momentum right now.
Two games, two wins, six goals scored and just the one - a penalty - conceded: it has been quite some start to the new season. Terry Burton’s men sent out a serious statement of intent to their rivals with the ruthless dismissals of Bolton and Blackburn last month and confidence is flowing through the ranks.
But having played the opening matches of the new campaign at Emirates Stadium, Arsenal revert to their usual home, Underhill, for tonight’s visit of Everton and it promises to be their biggest challenge yet.
The Gunners may be in fine form but that won’t worry their opponents, who travelled south at the end of last season to face an side unbeaten in seven games. That Arsenal team had momentum on their side but Everton still ran out deserved 2-0 winners.
“Everton are well known for producing quality teams, so this is potentially our toughest game of the season so far,” Burton told Arsenal.com. “We have had a very good start to the season, but we will be reminding the players that they have to stay focused if they want to continue to be successful.
“These lads all want to play for the first team one day, but to do that you need to be consistent. It is no use doing it in one or two games; the very best players do it again and again and again.”
Arsenal's youngsters have earned praise for their attacking prowess this season, and after last Wednesday’s comfortable victory over Marseille in the NextGen Series they are averaging three goals per game. But Burton is just as pleased with the defensive resilience his teams have displayed.
“We have been very good at the back,” the manager said. “It is not a part of the game that gets as much attention for some reason, but it is obviously a key area. We have been working very hard on it, and I have been pleased with the results so far.”
Chuba Akpom has been one of the stars of the summer for Arsenal, and scored twice against Marseille, but he will be missing on Monday after being called up for England Under-19s’ match against Germany.
Conor Henderson - who has three goals in two games at under-21 level - is also not available after his call-up to the Republic of Ireland Under-21 squad.
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