Feature

Josh Benson

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 time we spoke to midfielder Josh Benson:

I have always played in central midfield but changed in style almost from the first day I joined Arsenal as a seven-year-old.

I was spotted when playing for Thurrock in a tournament by a watching Arsenal scout and was invited for a six-week trial and after that I started training regularly at Hale End. My parents were a great support and my dad took me to every training session and every game and that is a big reason why I am trying to improve all the time.

I used to rely a lot on dribbling past players but I was taught to use my pace and passing a lot more to move the ball forward quicker. That has continued to develop in the nine years I have been an Arsenal player and now I am full time it is even more intense. I really enjoy being a full time footballer. The training and the work we do to not only develops technique but tactical understanding too is so good. I am trying to develop every part of my game but am working hard on further increasing my speed and working with our sports scientist on this, working with weights and developing running techniques.

I would say that in my style of play I am a bit of a mix between Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard. I like to score goals when timing runs into the penalty area. I also have a defensive job to do which is very important as we are taught to defend as a team and even if you are an attack minded player, you have to be aware of your defensive responsibilities. I am helped in that because I have also played as a centre back and last Saturday I came on as a right back in our 5-0 win over Leicester. I better understand what help and support defenders want from the midfielders in front of them.

I want to establish myself as a regular in the under-18s this year and try to become involved in the under-23s before the end of the season. The under-23 league is new this year and that can mean that we could be playing more regularly against professionals who have been playing first team football and are significantly older than a scholar like me. It is a challenge and one that I look forward to. I spoke to Emile Smith-Rowe, who is the same age as me, and played for the under-23s recently against Everton, he said it is so much faster and the opponents are stronger and are quicker in their play, thinking and movement. Having challenges like that is another way that we develop and I am working hard on improving my game to earn the opportunity.

I have moved from my family home in Thurrock to digs in St Albans near the training ground which I share with Jay Beckford. We get on really well, the banter is good and we go out and take our minds off football as you need to do some times, but are there for each other if needs be to talk about things that have come up in a game or in training. I see my family quite regularly and have settled in well and our landlady Rachel is great.

I am looking forward to tonight’s game, especially after the way the first team demolished Chelsea last Saturday. We are very close to the first team at the training ground. When we have a big win like that it lifts the whole atmosphere and, by the same token, if a result does not go the way we want, you feel that too. There is a real positive feel and I hope and expect that to continue. Champions League nights create a special atmosphere under the floodlights at Emirates and I really enjoy the games but also watching the different styles played by teams and players that come to play from around Europe. Basel have good experience of the Champions League and they can be a tough side to get a result against but I expect that we will win continue the good run we have going.

 

Josh Benson in action against Leicester City

Josh Benson in action against Leicester City

 

THE LOWDOWN

When did you first join the Arsenal Academy?At under-nine levelWho has been the biggest influence on your career?My dadWhat’s the best aspect of your game?My range of passingAnd what do you still need to work on?Increasing my speedWhich team did you support as a boy?ArsenalWho did you pretend to be in the playground?Frank LampardWhich current player would you most like to play against?Lionel MessiIf you could score any goal from history, which one would it be?David Beckham's free-kick for England against Greece

 

Josh Benson

Josh Benson

What’s been the greatest moment in your career so far?Winning the Futures CupIf you had to sing one song to save your life, what would it be?Riptide by Vance JoyWhat’s your most valuable possession?My mobile phoneWhat other sports are you good at?Tennis and boxingAside from PE, which was your best subject at school?History

 

Who has the best sense of humour?Robbie Burton

Who is the best at FIFA?Emile Smith-RoweWho has the best engine?Can I say me?!Who has the best turn of pace?Nathan TellaWho has the best ball skills?Jay BeckfordWho is the best with the ladies?Apart from me I would say Robbie BurtonWho is the worst dressed?I'd say it's Dominic Thompson

 

Trae Coyle (left), Reiss Nelson (centre), Josh Benson (right)

Trae Coyle

 

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