In Young Guns, featured first in the official matchday programme, we find out about the next generation of Arsenal youngsters, in their own words. Next, we speak to forward Folarin Balogun.
Signing my professional contract was a proud day. I have been at the club for over a decade and it was one of the main targets that I was focused on. The real hard work continues and I want to keep progressing so that I can make it into the first team.
The season is going really well. I feel I’ve become a more clinical finisher and have scored 22 goals in 23 games. I do a lot of work in training trying to improve and develop different ways of finishing so that when the chance comes, I’m ready to use whichever option is best. It also helps to keep defenders guessing. As the standard of the teams in which you play rises, you get less and less time and fewer opportunities on the ball. This is what drives me to be as efficient as possible in front of goal.
I am the sort of striker that likes to play on the shoulder of the last defender and make runs behind them, similar to the way that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang plays. I’ve trained a few times with the first team and I feel that I’ve benefitted from being involved with them, especially when playing against experienced defenders which forces you to find different ways of getting in on goal as what works at lower levels does not always work against them.
I’ve played four games for the under-23s and enjoyed the experience and feel I’m ready to progress. It’s all going very well with the under-18s and we’re focused on winning the league in the Arsenal style. We like to control the game and play attractive attacking football.
I think we all learned our lesson in the FA Youth Cup. We were good enough to win it but we lost our focus. We took it too casually going into the game against West Brom and got punished. We all know that cannot happen again and we prepare properly before every match and underestimate no team. It was a big disappointment but a valuable lesson to learn.
I haven’t yet declared who I will commit to internationally. I was born in New York, so can play for the USA. My parents were born in Nigeria and I have been in England since I was two years old, so I can play for both those countries too! I have several youth caps playing for England and I enjoy their style of play which is similar to Arsenal’s. I will be discussing matters with my parents and will then decide.
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