Pre-Match Report

Youth Cup: Arsenal v Everton - Preview

"If you want to make it in the first team you've got to get used to playing in front of big crowds. For the fans to come down and support us in their thousands is great. It gives us a chance to show them what's coming through the academy so a good atmosphere on Monday will really help us."

There's a feeling of excitement building at Arsenal as the season enters its final months. After the first team secured their place in the last four of the FA Cup on Saturday, the youth team can do the same in the competition's junior partner at Emirates Stadium tonight.

Ironically, Everton are the opponents blocking the young Gunners' path to the semi-finals. Despite the scoreline, the Toffees' senior side impressed again on their second visit to N5 this season and young goalkeeper Josh Vickers is expecting their youth team to provide an equally challenging test.

"You know that every game you go into could be your last game in this competition"

Josh Vickers

"We know what they are made of because we've watched their previous games," he told "They played Brighton and Sheffield United and they impressed us.

"They like to play good football, they're a similar team to us so whoever is able to produce the best game in terms of their style will win. They like to play out from the back and they do it well so we've got to be aware of that and it will be a case of staying patient and focusing on our game."

It's been an action-packed campaign for Vickers. The 18-year-old stopper has made 32 appearances for Ryman Premier League side Canvey Island while returning to Arsenal for their Youth Cup exploits. Vickers feels it's been a vital season for his development.

"When you are playing first-team football people's jobs are on the line so you are always playing under pressure," he said. "Competing for a starting position has really helped me. In non-league football if the club aren't winning then there's no money coming in so playing with that pressure has really helped me.

Josh Vickers

Josh Vickers


"The good thing about the loan deal is that I can still train at London Colney and play the cup games but I can also go off in the evenings and train with Canvey Island. So I'm getting match experience - getting to play Saturday and then Tuesday each week has been really enjoyable.

"You can only get so much out of under-18s football so going out there and experiencing different types of football and different styles of football has been a great experience. I've grown as a person and as a player plus my physical game has changed as well."

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Right now Vickers' focus is solely on Everton and, with Carl Laraman's side just three games away from the final, repeating the success of the 2009 side is well within Arsenal's reach.

"The Youth Cup is massive, when you are younger you always want to play in the Youth Cup," he said. "For a lot of the second years it's our last year of playing in it, so you know that every game you go into could be your last game in this competition.

"We don't want that and even the first years are desperate to win it. Knowing it's our last chance gives us a big incentive to win it this season."

Tickets are still available for the game priced at £4 adults and £2 for concessions.

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