Pre-Match Report

U-21s: Arsenal v Southampton - Preview

Arsenal Under-21s take on Southampton on Friday lunchtime as they continue their search for a first league win in 2014.

The young Gunners were unfortunate to drop two points when they conceded a stoppage-time penalty to draw 2-2 with Norwich City last time out but will take heart from what coach Steve Gatting described as their "best passing display of the season".

After a promising start to the campaign, Gatting's team have slipped to 12th in the table with 16 points from 11 games and are without a win since November. In that time however, they have progressed to the semi-finals of the Premier League Cup without conceding a goal and goalkeeper Matt Macey remains confident the team can take their cup form into their upcoming league games.

"It was always going to be quite a big change coming from a League Two club to a Premier League club"

Matt Macey

"I think we deserve more points than we've got," Macey told "Our last game against Norwich was a game we deserved to win and there's been a couple more matches which have been very similar.

"When you go on a cup run it gives you something to work for. The Chelsea game was a really good experience for us because we were up against it but stayed strong at the back.

"At full-time it felt like the best defensive performance that I had been involved in, in terms of how much of a battle it was, and I made a few saves to keep us in it. We'd lost to Liverpool the week before that so it was good to bounce back and keep a clean sheet."

The extra-time victory at the Recreation Ground was Macey's best performance since he joined the Club, featuring a string of fine saves to keep the scores level. Macey joined Arsenal from Bristol Rovers in October after a successful trial period and has started eight times for Gatting's team.

"To get into the under-21s team was the aim when I arrived,” he said. “I played a few under-18s games at the start just to feel my way in. There weren't many under-21 games because of the Youth League, which I'm too old to play in. But we're getting quite a lot of games at the moment.

"It was always going to be quite a big change coming from a League Two club to a Premier League club but the coaches and all my team-mates have been very welcoming.

"The facilities are up there with the best and the style of play is fantastic. We always try and play the ball out of the back so that helps me improve as a footballer. Without being disrespectful, in the lower league it's a bit more direct and route one.

"I've learnt a massive amount from the coaches here. It's only been three months but I've been trying to take in a lot of information and try and take that into games. I think the last three months is the most I've improved."

Matt Macey

Matt Macey


A win on Friday will take Arsenal above the Saints and into eighth place but the 19-year-old stopper is expecting a tough test against Martin Hunter's team.

"Southampton are well-known for having a fantastic academy so I'm sure they are a very talented side," said Macey. "We've been working on our possession game because we know they are likely to press us high up the pitch as a lot of teams have done this season.

"I'm expecting a difficult game with lots of passing football. But we know if can produce performances of the same level as the ones against Chelsea and Norwich then we've got a good chance of winning it and getting back on track."

Please note that Friday’s game will be played behind closed doors and admittance to the game is by invitation only.

We will have live tweets from London Colney from 1.25pm (UK time) on the @Arsenal account.

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