In Young Guns, featured first in the official matchday programme, we find out about the next generation of Arsenal youngsters, in their own words. This week we spoke to midfielder Ben Sheaf.
I was on the bench for the Capital One Cup match up at Sheffield Wednesday. The result was not a good one but the experience for me personally was. I got to see how things are done, the professionalism.
The preparation before the game, what happens during and after. Part of that preparation meant me training with the first team, which was a valuable experience. When you train with world-class players it is both tougher and easier at the same time. On the one hand the pace is a lot quicker, less room for error and as a young player I can see the challenge, which I actually find inspiring.
I also found it more comfortable at times because playing with accomplished established players, everything is more precise. The passing, the thinking, the runs. I was receiving the ball where I wanted it with the perfect weight and when I was passing, I completed a higher percentage because the experienced players read what I was thinking and were in the right positions and were also making runs that opened up more options for a wider range of passes.
I really enjoy training with the first team and being around them in training and for games leaves you wanting more.
Burnley will be a tough test but we have a good squad and should get through, and I fancy us to go on and win the FA Cup for a third consecutive time which would be a new record.
Hopefully I will get a chance to be involved in some capacity along the way. I believe that we have the players to win the cup and win the league at the same time.
I think I've come on a lot since I joined Arsenal from West Ham. This season especially I've been playing regularly for the under-21s and in a variety of positions – central midfield, right back and right wing. I feel I've matured and the experience of playing in varying roles has made me a better all-round player.
"I enjoy every aspect of sport on and off the field of play and am always open to ideas which I think has helped my development as a footballer and now I'm back in light training I hope to be able to continue my improvement"
The demands between right back and central midfield are different but I feel I've met the challenges well. I enjoy central midfield most. You have to cover a lot more ground, be able to get from box-to-box, defend and attack and that requires good energy levels which is natural to me, especially as I was Kent County cross country champion four years running when I was at school.
I love the fact that I am involved throughout the game as so much goes through midfield because of the way we play at Arsenal.
Playing at right back also requires you to get up and down because of the way that we play, but that involves more sprints to get up the pitch to support and give options in attack and also to get back and cover defensively.
I've been working a lot with the sports science coaches at Arsenal and my speed has improved tremendously as a result, which helps me do the job at right back even better. I come from a sporty family which has helped me to be disciplined and focused. I enjoyed all manner of sports, but football was my passion.
My mum Mandy was a top level volleyball and beach volleyball player, my brother Jake is a professional beach volleyball player and a Sky Sports mentor.
My dad Stuart played football at county level and my younger brother Max is with Arsenal and will find out soon if he gets offered a place in the Arsenal Academy. My eldest brother Luke is an officer in the army and the sports culture at home helped him immensely too.
I enjoy every aspect of sport on and off the field of play and am always open to ideas which I think has helped my development as a footballer and now I'm back in light training I hope to be able to continue my improvement.
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