Matt Macey has featured regularly for Arsenal Under-21s and was named on Arsene Wenger’s bench for Saturday’s 4-1 win against Liverpool, but first-team football in League Two has proven to be the most valuable experience for the young goalkeeper.
The 20-year-old spent one month on loan with Accrington Stanley, making his senior debut before going on to make three more appearances for the Lancashire side.
It was not an easy introduction for Macey, who played during Stanley’s five-game winless streak, but he relished the physical challenge and believes he has returned a better player.
"You’re expecting contact a little bit then if it doesn’t come, happy days. If it’s there you’re ready for it"
“It’s probably one of the best decisions I’ve made, if only for a month,” he told Arsenal.com. “What you learn in that period can be more than what you learn in months of training.
“It’s good to play for the under-21s but you need to get tested and hit a little bit. It helps when you come back here, you see the cross come in a little bit earlier so it’s all part of the experience.
“You don’t realise it until you go out on loan in the first place. People say it’s physical but you don’t fully appreciate it. You get your experience, come back and it’s a little bit easier. You’re expecting contact a little bit then if it doesn’t come, happy days. If it’s there you’re ready for it.”
Macey is not in the squad for Tuesday’s under-21 clash against Stoke City at Emirates Stadium, but is hoping the inclusion of Mikel Arteta, Jack Wilshere, Abou Diaby and Serge Gnabry can help Gatting’s side achieve their goals this season.
“I’d love for the team to win the league, so that’s something we can work towards,” the goalkeeper added. “We’ve got the ability to do it, it’s just whether we can get the results when it comes down to it.”
Arsenal Under-21s host Stoke City at Emirates Stadium on Tuesday. Kick-off is at 7pm and updates will be available on the @Arsenal Twitter feed from 6.55pm (UK time).
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