With the derby just over a week away, Arsenal’s rising stars have the chance to strike an early blow for the red half of the north London on Saturday.
Steve Gatting’s side head to Tottenham for their fourth match of the elite group stage of the Under-21 Premier League. There could be no better venue to claim their first victory of the new year, and anticipation is building ahead of a match that always captures the imagination, no matter what level it is played at.
"Every win can push us on, but especially against Tottenham. I think everyone has that little bit more motivation. If we can win, it will give us a real push"
If Arsenal are to win on enemy territory, Serge Gnabry will have to be on top form. It has been a whirlwind season for the 17-year-old, with debuts in the Premier League, League Cup and Champions League, but he has taken it all in his stride.
Hopes are high for Gnabry - indeed Arsene Wenger called him “a great hope for the future” - but for now his focus is simply on beating Tottenham.
“Both clubs have a great rivalry and if we win there, it will be a great result for us,” he told Arsenal.com.
“I think the first thing I asked [upon joining the Club] was with which team Arsenal have a rivalry, and everyone told me it was Tottenham. When I went to my first game against Tottenham, I felt the atmosphere and rivalry in the crowd.
“The players told me about the rivalry and said we always have to win against Tottenham. I’ve been told from when I first arrived that the main thing is always to win against them. I’m really looking forward to the game and I hope we can beat them.
“Every win can push us on, but especially against Tottenham. I think everyone has that little bit more motivation. If we can win that game, it will give us a real push.”
The German youth international has only just returned to action after two months out with a back injury, but has already made his presence felt. He was on target for the under-18s against Newcastle and followed that up with another lovely strike in the FA Youth Cup defeat to Everton on Monday night.
"In life you win and you lose. We have to take the best bits from the game and do it better next time"
While Gnabry was disappointed with Arsenal’s cup exit, he insists he is working hard to force his way back into the first team again.
“Of course it’s a big loss to go out of the Youth Cup but you just have to take it,” he said. “In life you win and you lose. We have to take the best bits from the game and do it better next time.
“I’m happy [with my own form]. I’m taking it step by step and game by game. My next step is to increase my fitness and get back into the shape I was in before I got injured.
“I’m working hard in training. I’m trying to get seen by Arsene Wenger. I’m giving my best when I get the chance to train with the first team and hope the boss puts his trust in me and picks me.”
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