Neil Banfield: Club starting to reap the rewards from Academy

Neil Banfield: Club starting to reap the rewards from Academy

Arsenal reserves coach Neil Banfield believes that the club are finally starting to consistently produce English talent that are capable of making the step up to the first team following an impressive performance in Dublin last night.

The reserves comfortably dispatched their Manchester United counterparts at the Tallaght Stadium in the Platinum One Challenge with the narrow 2-1 scoreline failing to tell the full story.

Neil Banfield’s side dominated the game from start to finish in a highly impressive performance in their opening Platinum One Challenge tie, and they’ll be disappointed not to have made their possession count, Afobe in particular missing several good openings to extend their advantage.

As it was they had a first-half Jay Emmanuel-Thomas penalty and a well crafted Wellington Silva strike in the second period to thank for their victory, with Macheda netting what proved to be a consolation goal later on.

Henri Lansbury and Havard Nordtveit shone for the Arsenal side, whilst Jay Emmanuel-Thomas followed on from his good showing in pre-season with an excellent Man of the Match display. As ever though, Banfield refused to single out players for particular praise after the game.

“We don’t like to get too carried away with individuals,” Banfield told “It’s a team thing at Arsenal and they all know they’ve done well I think, every one of them. Overall it’s the team that really matters and tonight they’ve all gelled and they’ve played some good football tonight.

It’s a good game whenever we play Man United, it’s a proper football game. They’ve got good players and a fantastic club and they’re always good games against Man United. “

With the Arsenal academy set-up having been in place since 1998, the reserves coach now believes that following on from back-to-back national Academy league titles and an FA Youth Cup success in 2009, the homegrown talent is beginning to really make an impression at the club.

“[Tonight] there has been some European players and also some from the Academy, from Liam Brady. It has taken a long time to set up because the players have to be good enough for the manager and I think we have reached a level where the manager is looking at the young players and saying ‘yeah we have got some really good homegrown players’ as well as the European player that come in young.”

Former United striker Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge of the Manchester United side last night and praised the performances of James Shea and Ben Amos in goal for each side.

“I thought it was a good game with chances at both ends and there could have been a lot more goals of course – the two keepers did well.

I didn’t know much about [Arsenal before the game]. I’d seen them once last year towards the end of the season, the U18s played in the semi-final against us and some of them I’ve seen in the league of course – I’ve seen Eastmond, I’ve seen Lansbury. And I know Havard [Nordtveit] because he’s Norwegian so I’ve spoken to him a few times.”

Arsenal will now go on to play the hosts Shamrock Rovers on Sunday afternoon knowing that a win or a draw will ensure they win the Platinum One Challenge.

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