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 defender Chiori Johnson.
This season has been one of rebuilding for me. I damaged the ligaments in my knee in our last game of the season whilst on tour in Holland. I had to have a couple of operations and was in at the training ground for most of last summer.
I was out for eight months in all which was quite tough mentally. I could see everyone going out training and playing games and the squad progressing in their development and I was happy for them but felt frustrated that I could not be with them.
I had a lot of support from my team-mates, the coaching and medical staff at Arsenal and friends and family too who kept me positive. The good news is that I am back now and building up my match fitness which is especially important for me as I am mainly playing full back now.
It is a position that is very demanding physically because you have to get up and down the flanks and be switched on mentally at all times which means that you have to be fit. I completed my first full 90 minutes on in our under-21s 2-1 away win over Derby County.
"Personally I will also be looking more long term and making sure my preparation is perfect for a good run next season. I want to try and catch up on lost time and be ready to kick on next season"
That was quite inspiring, not only because we beat the league leaders and are now second, just two points behind with two games in hand, but we did it with 10 men after Ben Sheaf was sent off in the first half.
We had to dig deep and managed to score a second goal and then held on to the lead to take all the points. It was a useful learning experience for us all because we were up against it and not only come through but won which will help in the future if we are very in such a position again. We will now push on to try and top the league.
We were less happy the previous week though and felt that we let ourselves down in the FA Youth Cup. I really believed that we had the team that would go on and win it but I think the damage was done in the first leg and we did not manage to overcome that in the return leg at home and so Manchester City went through. It is very disappointing.
Not only for what could have been but in a cup competition, you fee like you lose all the efforts and good performances that have been put in before. The victory over Coventry was a real hard-fought battle and the win over Liverpool was a great performance.
But, that’s how it is and we all now have to use the disappointment we felt as an inspiration to ensure that we never have to feel that again. I hope to be involved in the under-21s for the rest of the season, but personally I will also be looking more long term and making sure my preparation is perfect for a good run next season. I want to try and catch up on lost time and be ready to kick on next season.