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 winger Chris Willock.
I feel like I have progressed a great deal in the last year or so and the football has been non-stop. After a short break at the end of last season I went to the under-17 World Cup with England in Chile.
It was a disappointing tournament for us as a nation because we failed to get out of our group, but for me personally I learnt so much. From a football point of view it was interesting how we prepared for the opposition, watching videos analysing their strengths and weaknesses.
There was a real serious and professional feel to everything. The varying football styles from teams around the world was really interesting to me and has expanded my knowledge of the game for sure.
The pitches were dry and sticky and learning to cope with them and the climate will be good for future tournaments. I was quite disappointed with my own performance although I feel I improved in the last game when I had got to grips with the conditions.
Nigeria were the eventual tournament winners and I they were very worthy champions. They were strong as a team, had good individual players and played some really great football too.
Personally I felt I learnt a lot about dealing with being away from friends and family at a tournament for weeks at a time. I am close to my family and I missed them but you learn to deal with that because you have to, in order to do your best for the team.
It was an honour for me to represent England at the World Cup and I look forward to the next tournament where I hope we can do ourselves justice.
Since the beginning of the season I have been working hard on improving every aspect of my game but especially developing my power. The club’s sports scientists prepare specially tailored exercise programmes for each player.
"I have also been fortunate to have my brother Joe in the Academy this season. He has been a big help too. We talk things through a lot and we keep each other positive. We do have other players as friends and support, but having your brother there is extra special"
My programme involves a lot of exercises designed to develop my upper body strength and legs which helps me retain the ball and be strong in challenges. I have continued to develop technique and my football intelligence has been very greatly helped by the coaches at Arsenal as well as training with the first team.
I have trained quite a bit with them lately and that makes you become quicker and sharper because you have to make sure that everything you do is cleaner and more precise. When I’ve played on the wing in 11 v 11 games I have been up against Kieran Gibbs whose experience is clear.
You cannot get away with any mistakes as he will take the ball from you or stop you using it properly. At under-21 or under-18 level you can get away with a lot and not have to think so much about how to beat defenders. Standards are raised when around the first team and that translates itself into the under-21s too.
It was good to see how the players in my position do things close up and I have been able to pick up a lot from them. I also trained with our new signing recently Mohamed Elneny.
I was very impressed. From what I saw he is an excellent player who can break down opposition play and solidifies the midfield. I personally want to become more and more involved with the first team for the remainder of the season and look forward to playing for the first team again.
I have also been fortunate to have my brother Joe in the Academy this season. He has been a big help too. We talk things through a lot and we keep each other positive. We do have other players as friends and support, but having your brother there is extra special.
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