Having finished runners-up in Southern Group E of the Checkatrade Trophy, the reward for Arsenal’s U21s is a trip to Fratton Park to play Portsmouth.
The young Gunners will travel to Fratton Park to play the League One leaders in the week beginning December 3rd, in what will be a tough test.
For those unaware, Premier League clubs have been allowed to enter their U21 teams to play in this competition against the senior teams of lower league clubs, a move designed to give them greater competitive experience than playing at underage levels.
Freddie Ljungberg’s lads beat Coventry 3-0 and Forest Green Rovers 3-1, but were given a real lesson by Cheltenham Town who won 6-2 in a game which illustrated the physical challenges faced by players still maturing.
“There were a lot of tackles flying in, that’s part of football,” said former Invincible.
“That’s why we want to be in this competition. It’s different from youth football.
“Of course we try to develop football players, we focus a lot on the technicals, rotations, but you still need to have that determination and grit.
“Against men it’s different. They are physically stronger. I remember last week someone told me Bukayo Saka got pushed off the pitch and he was stood there asking ‘what happened here’.
“That doesn’t happen in youth football. It’s great education for them.”