When Arsenal’s rising stars step out to Anfield on Monday night, it will be difficult for the mind not to drift back to games of the recent past.
Perhaps the most iconic ground in the country, Liverpool’s home has played host to defining moments throughout its rich and colourful history.
Perhaps the most dramatic of which was on May 26, 1989 when Michael Thomas ran through in the final moments of the 1988/89 season and poked the ball past Bruce Grobbelaar to claim the league title.
"The atmosphere is a bit different and the way you go into the game is maybe a bit different too. Everyone might be a little bit more up for the game"
There is not as much up for grabs now as Steve Gatting’s side head to the North West, but still history will be fresh in the minds of many Arsenal fans.
The first team have not lost at Anfield since April 2008, while the Club’s young stars won the FA Youth Cup there a year later - beating Liverpool 2-1 and claiming a 6-2 aggregate victory.
Many of the class of 2009 may have moved on or progressed to the first team, but Sanchez Watt admits that campaign still provokes happy memories.
“To win it was a great experience,” he told Arsenal.com. “There were some really hard games throughout the competition.
“I remember playing Tottenham away from home - we were behind but came back and won it. It taught us a lot about winning games from losing positions.
“It was great to have the [two-legged] final at the Emirates and Anfield. My dad supports Liverpool so it was a good place to pick up the cup!
“I scored in both legs of the final too and he was proud of that. It really was a great experience.”
Watt admits that playing at one of the most famous stadiums in the world makes the Anfield experience different to the typical under-21 game.
“To play at any big stadium like that is a great experience because you picture yourself playing there every week. It builds you up,” he said.
“The atmosphere is a bit different and the way you go into the game is maybe a bit different too. Everyone might be a little bit more up for the game so I'm sure it will be enjoyable to go back there.”
Many of the squad that played during finals weekend of the NextGen Series will return to the fray, having missed Thursday’s 2-1 defeat at Southampton. The likes of Serge Gnabry, Hector Bellerin and Chuba Akpom should be available for selection, while there could also be a first appearance at this level for the exciting Gedion Zelalem.
It promises to be an intriguing night - and perhaps another opportunity for the Club’s rising stars to add to the growing bank of happy Anfield memories.
- We will have live tweets from Anfield on the @ArsenalLive account from 6.55pm (UK time)
Copyright 2023 The Arsenal Football Club Limited. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.