By Lloyd Webb
For Steve Gatting’s under-21 side, the business end of the season has arrived.
The Gunners sit in third place with five games left play, but have three matches in hand on league leaders Derby County.
After Friday’s clash at Blackburn Rovers, the games come thick and fast. Arsenal have home fixtures against West Brom and Wolves, and also face trips to Swansea City and the Rams.
"It will be important for the kids to concentrate. We will go into the game, try to attack them and close the ball down. We will play our normal game. We will see where that takes us."
With a number of Gatting’s players also competing in the FA Youth Cup, the under-21 manager says he will have to give chances to younger players.
“We have an eye on Monday’s FA Youth Cup semi-final, so we have quite a young side for the game,” he told Arsenal.com. “Lots of players will be making their debuts, so it is a chance to show what they can do. The FA Youth Cup team are being rested.
“The ones that don’t normally play, such as Josh Dasilva, will start. Kostas Pileas will start and younger players like Donyell Malen will play. It is going to be a tough game for us with that sort of side, so it will be a challenge for us.
“It is going to be difficult because the side will be mixed against Blackburn. We will try to win every game we can, that is our aim. It will be a challenge though.
“It has been a positive campaign,” added Gatting. "It is about the players rather than the team. We are not trying to develop a team, we are trying to develop players and we have given a younger side an experience. A lot of them are doing well.”
The Gunners have already beaten Blackburn once this season, defeating them 3-2 in a tough match at London Colney, and Gatting says his young side will have their work cut out on Friday.“There will be a lot of problems for the young side,” he said. “Those who played under-18s football will make the step up. It is a chance to look at the younger players in the squad. It will be more physical for them, it also have be a quicker tempo and there will be more skill involved. It will be a challenge for these young kids and that is what we want.
“It will be important for the kids to concentrate. We will go into the game, try to attack them and close the ball down. We will play our normal game. We will see where that takes us.”
Follow @Arsenal on Twitter from 18:55pm (UK time) on Friday for live updates of the game against Blackburn Under-21s at Leigh Sports Village.
Copyright 2021 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source.