Feature

Josh Dasilva

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 the versatile Josh Dasilva:

The past year has been quite an eventful one for me. I was playing as a striker a year ago and now I’m firmly established as a midfielder, and really enjoying it.

Andries Jonker spoke to me and explained that they had seen me play in midfield for the under- 16s and also the way I made chances for others when up front, he felt that?I had potential as a midfielder.

It was a position that I needed?to get reacquainted with, and I’m thankful that Thierry Henry spent?a lot of time working with me. He explained I had to concentrate on getting the basics right, like tackling, passing and positioning and then my natural style will come out.?He emphasised playing quickly.

I’ve also done a lot of training with Steve Gatting and Carl Laraman with the under-23s which has helped me, and while it felt weird at first, I’m now fully comfortable in midfield and able to be myself.

I try to watch and learn from Santi Carzorla, but a lot of what he is able to do is because of his low centre of gravity. I’m almost six ft two, so I take what I can from him, but also other tall strong central midfielders like Yaya Toure and Paul Pogba. I use my power and strength but also technique to try to make opportunities for the team and arrive in the box to score goals too. I have my defensive duties too, but playing slightly in advance of the holding midfielder is my usual position.

I really enjoy training games and playing alongside Francis Coquelin. He has helped me a lot. He trains with the same passion that he plays and he is very vocal, which has made me more effective in the role.

What also helped me is that Arsenal offered me a professional contract before I became comfortable in midfield which told me they had faith in me. That gave me the confidence to work hard at making the change and secure the next contract as a midfielder.

I’ve since travelled with the first team and was on the bench for the EFL Cup game against Nottingham Forest earlier in the season. I took in all the atmosphere, how everyone prepares and the crowd too. They really surprised me because as we pulled into the stadium they were shouting my name. I didn’t know they knew who I was, so that helped make me feel like I belonged. The boss places a lot of faith in the players.

A lot of work is done in training for the game and knows that we all know what our job is. At half-time we came in 1-0 up and all he really said was that we carry on playing the way we were and concentrate on making sure we score the next goal and play our game. We went on to win 4-0 in a very dominant display, where all the players performed so well together.

As younger players there is a real buzz in the air every time the EFL Cup games come around because we know that many of us will be involved and we’re happy for whoever does well, such as Chris Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the last round. We know that the manager always picks a team he feels can win and so to be involved in any way gives all the young players a real boost.  

THE LOWDOWN

Who has been the biggest influence on your career?My brother.

What's the best aspect of your game?Passing.

And what do you still need to work on?Heading and shooting.

Which team did you support as a boy?Manchester United.

Who did you pretend to be in the playground?Ronaldo.

Which current player would you most like to play against?Paul Pogba.

What's been the greatest moment in your career so far?Being in the first-team squad against Nottingham Forest.

If you had to sing one song to save your life, what would it be?Frank Ocean - Novacane  

team-mates

Who is the best at FIFA?Marc Bola.

Who has the best engine?Ismael Bennacer.

Who has the best turn of pace?Reiss Nelson.

Who has the best ball skills?Eddie Nketiah.

Who is the best with the ladies?Marcus McGuane.

Who has the worst taste in music?Alex Crean.

Who is the worst dancer?Chris Willock.