Arsenal U21s saw their first ever Checkatrade Trophy campaign come to an end in midweek as they lost away to Portsmouth.
It was a frustrating occasion for Freddie Ljungberg’s side, who suffered the agony of conceding late on, but the overall experience of playing in the competition was certainly still worthwhile.
In participating in the Checkatrade Trophy, Arsenal’s youngsters gained valuable experience of playing against senior opponents without having to go on loan.
If some of the youngsters do head out on temporary transfer in the near future then they will now have an idea of what to expect with regards to the physical and tactical demands of playing against players in League One and League Two.
Arsenal may well feel that had they been able to call upon the likes of Eddie Nketiah, Emile Smith Rowe and Joe Willock against Portsmouth, the outcome of the game could have been rather different.
However, from a development perspective, the game gave some of Arsenal’s other youngsters the opportunity to test themselves in an intense environment.
It is hoped that Arsenal will elect to enter the competition again next season to continue to provide the youngsters with further experience, and when this campaign is assessed the victories over Coventry City and Forest Green Rovers will be looked back upon fondly.
Conceding six goals away to Cheltenham Town and the aforementioned loss against Portsmouth provided indications of improvements that need to be made and the young Gunners will look to learn from those games by cutting out avoidable errors from their games.
The attention now turns back to the U23 league, but next week could see the chance for some of Ljungberg’s players to be involved in the first-team again, with Qarabag visiting Emirates Stadium in the Europa League.
With Arsenal already assured of top place in the group, there is a good chance that a host of youngsters, including exciting winger Bukayo Saka, could be involved in some capacity.