After following Arsene Wenger’s side to Dortmund, Brussels and Istanbul, Arsenal Under-19s are spreading their wings independently for the first time this season against Atletico Madrid.
The main difference between the youth and senior competitions is that the Youth League's last 16 is played over one leg, which means Steve Gatting and Frans de Kat’s side will have to get it right at the first time of asking.
This will be the second time in two years that the young Gunners have been drawn against Spanish opposition in the knockout stage; they were beaten by Barcelona last season.
"On Wednesday we played Royston Town and then on Tuesday we’re playing Atletico Madrid in Spain. It’s a massive difference but I think the boys are ready"
However, after battling to a 2-1 victory against Royston Town in the fourth round of the FA Youth Cup, centre back George Dobson is confident Arsenal’s youngsters are mature enough to overcome a similarly tough challenge in Europe.
“It will be a little bit different because when you travel with the first team you feel like you’ve got a bit of luxury,” Dobson told Arsenal.com. “We’ll be on our own but I think we’re ready and we’ll do the best we can.
“I’ve played three full games for the under-19s and came on in one, so I feel like a real part of the team. Hopefully I can get picked in the next game and help the team achieve a win so we can get into the next round.
“Atletico won their group and won five out of six games. They’re going to be a really tough opponent. We’re expecting a really tough game and we’re just going to have to put our best performance in as a team to hopefully beat them and get into the next round.
“It’s a big change!" added Dobson. "On Wednesday we played Royston Town and then on Tuesday we’re playing Atletico Madrid in Spain. It’s a massive difference but I think the boys are ready.
“We played some good football against Royston but it seemed a bit lacklustre. We didn’t get out the blocks quick enough, we were a bit slow and we can’t make that mistake against Atletico.”
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