Pre-Match Report

U21 Cup: Arsenal v Reading - Preview

Tafari Moore

With Arsenal's place in the semi-finals of the Youth Cup secured, the academy embark on the second of three cup ties this month when the under-21s take on Reading in the last four of the Premier League Cup on Saturday.

A two-legged final against Manchester City or Burnley await the winners - and if Arsenal progress they will be presented with another chance to play at Emirates Stadium where the academy still boasts a 100 per cent record.

But Steve Gatting's side will be wary of their opponents, having succumbed to a 2-1 defeat at the Madjeski Stadium in January, and right back Tafari Moore admits they will need a vast improvement at Meadow Park.

"Coming from being a schoolboy to a scholar meant the first few months were always going to be hard"

Tafari Moore

"Our passing needs to be more clinical and we need to concentrate better from set-pieces," Moore told "Reading are a physical side and it was a tough game for us last time. But we've been improving and there's a chance to get to a final so we'll be ready.

"It's an amazing experience to play at the Emirates, Everyone here dreams of playing so to get to play there for the youth team is a big thing, and to perform in front of some fans is a great experience for us."

Moore has made six appearances for the under-21s this season and has featured heavily in the under-18s' run in the Youth Cup since he arrived as a scholar in the summer. The 16-year-old says he is delighted with his progress and his immediate elevation into the academy's senior side.

"When I joined the academy in the summer I found the tempo difficult to get used to," he said. "Coming from being a schoolboy to a scholar meant the first few months were always going to be hard.

"But then we went to Germany in August where my physical level improved and they saw the potential in me to play in the under-21s. I was given my first game for them against Leyton Orient.

"It was good to play against stronger players who are a bit more tactically aware, and you start to learn more. Playing-wise, it's a faster tempo but you have to learn to deal with that."


Tafari Moore

Tafari Moore



Moore now faces a battle for the starting berth at full back after Hector Bellerin returned from his loan spell at Watford. However, the agile and pacy defender is happy to remain patient and intends to keep learning from two players in particular.

"It's definitely Bacary Sagna and Carl Jenkinson," he said. "They're both good right backs, Bacary in particular because he is so strong on the one-v-ones and he wins nearly every challenge in the air. Carl does the same when he comes on so they are good players to model myself on."

Reading, who also qualified for the last four of the Youth Cup this week after a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Liverpool, are currently on a strong run of form having lost just once since their 2-1 win over the Gunners.

But with the likes of Bellerin, Isaac Hayden, Kris Olsson and Thomas Eisfeld all in line to start, Arsenal will be confident of victory and another shot at silverware.

Please note that tickets for Saturday's semi-final at Meadow Park are FREE.

We'll have live tweets from the game from 2.55pm (UK time) on the @Arsenal account.

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