Charles Sagoe Jr has provided an honest assessment of Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat to Lens Under-19s in the UEFA Youth League.
Ayanda Sishuba converted from 12 yards in first-half stoppage time to condemn us to our second defeat in the competition.
“It was quite difficult,” he said. ”I thought the first half we started off really brightly, but when we gave away the pen it really killed us honestly because a back five is so difficult to break down because when you make runs in behind there are so many men tracking you.
“You try to have shots from in front and they always block it, so it was a difficult game but we’ll take the learning from it and bounce back when we play them again in London.
“We were dominating. I thought in possession we did some nice movements and got into some good areas but it was just the final action really. I felt like we needed to get more shots off on goal to drop their line back also.
“When the penalty went in, it kind of demoralised us a little bit but we tried in the second half to bounce back. It was a tough game in this atmosphere as well, but we’ll just take the learnings from it and go again.”
Despite the two defeats in the UEFA Youth League so far, Charles added that it’s been a good experience to get to face different types of opponents to what we’re used to.
“They’re different play styles, especially against PSV, very technical, and a Lens side as well that are very physical and very dominant,” he explained. “Pace, strength, I can’t lie it’s been a very good experience and we’ll try our best in the next games to pick up results so we can get out the group.”
It’s been an exciting time for Charles, who made his first-team debut less than a week ago in our 1-0 win against Brentford in the Carabao Cup.
“Honestly it was a great experience to be fair,” he said. “It’s still a whirlwind because playing for Arsenal’s first team is what I’ve been dreaming of since I was a little kid. Playing for the Arsenal first team with the likes of Emile and Reiss helping me out through the game was amazing. I’m forever grateful for Mikel giving me that opportunity.
“The coaches have always given me advice, even if I didn’t make my debut. They always tell me to stay grounded, stay humble and keep on working hard because I want that opportunity again, so I’m going to keep working hard in training and everything that I apply myself to.”
Supporters love to see a Hale End boy come through the ranks, but Charles’ teammates and coaches were all in high spirits for him on Thursday morning at London Colney.
“I must have came into training the other day, after I made my debut, and the staff, the kitchen staff, the coaches, my teammates, they were all so ecstatic for me,” he said. “The love and support that they gave me when I came into the building was honestly amazing and I’m very grateful that they gave me that.
“Picking up the win and moving onto the next round against a tough Brentford side, seeing them on TV - the likes of Mbeumo and Wissa - who are very technical players, to come up against them, I was glad to help the team win and onto the next round.
“Playing with the first team with Arsenal is a massive achievement but I would like more and more experiences and opportunities so I’m going to keep on working hard and hopefully I’ll get one of those opportunities again.”
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