Pre-Match Report

Under-19s: Napoli v Arsenal - Preview

Chuba Akpom
Chuba Akpom

Like the first team, Arsenal Under-19s travel to Italy needing to avoid a heavy defeat to seal their place in the knockout stages of the Uefa Youth League.

After making a flying start in the competition, Steve Gatting’s side have edged their way to the finishing line with three straight draws leaving them top of Group F on nine points.

The young Gunners will only bow out at the group stage if they are beaten 3-0 by Napoli and Borussia Dortmund beat Marseille. However, unlike the first team, the under-19s have to win in order to guarantee top spot.

"We've got a lot of young players and we're on a roll right now so it's important that we carry on our form and hopefully we can go far this year"

Chuba Akpom

Gatting’s team cruised past the Italians when they met at Meadow Park in October but Chuba Akpom, who scored a brace in that game, insists Napoli will provide a much stiffer test at Stadium Bisceglia of Aversa on Wednesday.

"It's important that we go for the win because Napoli need to go for the win as well," Akpom told "They will come out all guns blazing and it's important we do that as well and get off to a good start.

"Hopefully that will lead us into the knockout stages because I think we deserve to be there."

It's been a season to remember for the young striker. The 18-year-old has made two appearances for the first team and scored a penalty in the Capital One Cup shoot-out win against West Bromwich Albion.

"I'm trying to push on to the first team," he said. "I've been on the bench a few times but I want to make it a more permanent thing. I'm trying to work my way up from the under-21s and my season has been good so far."

For the moment, Akpom's focus remains solely on progressing in the Youth League. The forward believes the experience of reaching the semi-finals of the NextGen Series last season will help the team go deep into the knockout stages this term. 


Chuba Akpom

Chuba Akpom



"I think it's good that we got to the semi-finals of the NextGen last season and it's a good example for the younger boys who didn't play last year to look at," said Akpom.

"They've seen that we're capable of going far in European competitions. We've got a lot of young players and we're on a roll right now so it's important that we carry on our form and hopefully we can go far this year.

"The Youth League is another well-organised tournament," he added. "Playing against the top young players around Europe is a really good experience for us.

"It's a really good education for young footballers - that's the standard we want to be playing against every week and it's good be following the same footsteps as the first team in terms of European football this season."

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