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 striker Stephy Mavididi.
I think I have had a bit of an up and down season. I had a good experience at the Under-17s World Cup in Chile in the summer. It was a real honour for me to play for England and represent my country there. We didn’t do ourselves justice as a team but I feel that it was a useful experience for us all.
Tournament football, especially a World Cup, is very different. I learned a lot about how to deal with being away from friends and family for a long time and from a football aspect different styles of play and tactical approaches.
It was also a good benchmark for me personally to see how I compared with other strikers from all around the world. Not may players get to experience a World Cup at any level and so I felt really honoured.
I came back to Arsenal late because of the World Cup, but started well. I was full of confidence and was scoring freely. I was playing regularly but then the goals stopped coming so easily, I played less regularly and as a result my confidence dropped.
Confidence is vital because when you are full of it, especially for a striker, everything is so easy. You take your chances almost on auto-pilot. At the same time, it’s scoring goals that help boost your confidence.
What I’ve been doing is trying to practice to develop my finishing. I have spoken a lot about it with Thierry Henry, who coaches us, and he’s tried to get me to be more decisive – to go with my instinct in front of goal and not question my decision about how I’m going to score.
If your confidence is low, you can start hesitating and that’s when you are more likely to miss. I try to take every opportunity in training and give myself the best chance of finishing every effort. I feel better now than I have been and hopefully the goals will soon start flowing freely again.
I think in terms of style I’m similar to Danny Welbeck and I enjoyed playing with him in a recent Under-21s game. I was playing slightly behind him and he speaks quite a lot during the game, which helped us work together well, and I’ve taken a lot of what he was saying on board. I’ve trained with the first earn quite a lot, especially because of all the injuries that there were.
I really benefitted from it, especially playing in training games against the likes of Per Mertesacker, Laurent Koscielny and Gabriel. I think I benefitted the most from playing against Per. He’s so experienced and is such an authority on the pitch. He’s always taking and organising and as I striker playing against him that can affect you – I had to learn to deal with that.
He rarely has to get into a leg race because he’s very clever in his defending. At one point I was getting frustrated because he kept catching me offside but that was because he’d step up at the right time. It was an education for me playing against him especially, and one that I feel I benefitted from.
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