"We're looking to follow in their footsteps. We all want to push on to the first team and I think this will be a great way to make our mark. Winning the FA Youth Cup would be a great way of catching the manager's eye."
Those were the words of 16-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles as he remembered the success of the 2009 team when Arsenal beat Liverpool to lift the FA Youth Cup for the seventh time. A certain Jack Wilshere was part of that triumphant side and Maitland-Niles hopes to emulate the England midfielder's pathway into the first team.
The Gunners will be firm favourites to progress on Friday when they take on Torquay United in the third round at Boreham Wood. The winger is excited about a possible cup run and sees it as a chance to impress under-21s manager Steve Gatting, who will take charge of the team in the competition.
"I've become a lot more attack-minded and have been getting into areas behind defences. I just want to keep progressing and hopefully I can impress people"
"It's a good chance to proceed in your career and get a call-up into the under-21 team," Maitland-Niles told Arsenal.com. "If you play well then you can become a star figure in the team - I think that's important.
"We should be the favourites because we've got loads of great players here. Most of the players who will be play are involved in the under-21s and the under-19s squad so we've got a strong side going into this game."
Maitland-Niles has featured heavily in all three academy sides this season and the youngster is relishing the chance to travel with the first team when they play in the Uefa Youth League.
"I'm really enjoying travelling with the first team because everyone is like a family when we stay together," he said.
"I think I've progressed a lot quicker than I thought this season. There were a lot of departures last season but that's come at the right time for me and I've just taken it in my stride.
"My whole game has come along a lot better. I've become a lot more attack-minded and have been getting into areas behind defences. I just want to keep progressing and hopefully I can impress people."
Tickets for Friday's game at Boreham Wood FC can be bought on the door and are priced at just £3 for adults and £1 for concessions.
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