Arsenal U21s have made a scintillating start to the season, with Steve Gatting’s side taking maximum points from their first five league games.
There has been much to admire about the young Gunners’ overall play, but it is their attacking prowess that has been the most significant aspect of their excellent early performances.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide may have suffered an injury and Alex Iwobi hasn’t quite hit the heights of last season (or indeed pre-season), but striker Stephy Mavididi has fared well, as has Chris Willock, who, more often than not, has been used as a substitute this season.
There is a less familiar name, though, who has made a rather significant impact at this level this campaign. Kaylen Hinds isn’t the most well known youngster in the Arsenal set-up, but he is certainly one of the most impressive on current form.
The 17-year-old is capable of operating as a striker or out wide, but usually features in the number ten position, where has operated to devastating effect for Gatting’s team.
Quick, skilful and a precise passer, Hinds is at the hub of many of Arsenal’s free-flowing attacking moves at U21 level. His ability to find space and his commendable work ethic are invaluable to the young Gunners’ cause, whilst he is also capable of finding the net himself.
Like many Arsenal youngsters (and senior players) Hinds has had problems with injuries in recent times, and he spent a significant proportion of last season on the sidelines.
Now, though, he is determined to make up for lost time and his good form has also extended to Arsenal’s UEFA Youth League campaign, which continued this week with a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Olympiacos.
It seems highly unlikely that Arsenal U21s will be able to maintain their excellent form throughout the course of the campaign, but in Hinds they know they have a hugely dependable performer.
He hasn’t exactly been under the radar, with the Hale End product impressing for England at youth level, whilst he memorably featured for Arsenal in the UEFA Youth League when he was still a schoolboy.
Given that he is only in his second year as a full-time footballer, and his first as a bonafide member of the U21 squad, the first-team is still some distance away for Hinds, with the likes of Iwobi and Reine-Adelaide closer to the senior set-up at present.
In time, though, and particularly if he continues to perform in the manner that he is currently doing, Hinds should be able to work his way up the ranks and hopefully start training with the first-team on occasion.
Then there will be other milestones to achieve, such as being called over more frequently for training sessions and eventually being named in a matchday squad.
For now, though, Hinds is fully focused on prolonging both his and the U21 side’s stellar starts to the season.