For some of Arsenal’s first-year scholars it has been a rather frustrating season so far owing to a lack of game time.
The academy has something of a problem at present with regards to there being too many players in the setup, but steps are being taken to address that issue and a significant amount of prospects were loaned out in the January transfer window.
One player to benefit from the gaps that have been left is Bradley Ibrahim, with the 17-year-old having stepped up this week to make his first two appearances for Arsenal at U23 level.
Prior to this season Ibrahim was usually deployed as a deep-lying midfielder. He is effective at breaking up play and playing short snappy passes, while his technical ability is also of a high standard.
Recently Ibrahim has found himself deployed at centre-back for Arsenal U18s and, despite some initial teething problems, he has adapted to the position well.
Ibrahim has had to adapt to playing in other positions, too. On his U23s debut away to Leicester City he started at right-back and although he was caused plenty of problems it was a useful learning experience for him, with the youngster improving as the game went on.
For the next match, a 4-1 defeat at home to Liverpool, Ibrahim was brought on as a substitute and this time he played on the right wing. It wasn’t an entirely natural fit, but it was still another step in the right direction for a player who is much more mature overall than he was a year ago.
The next step for Ibrahim will be to establish himself as a regular for the U18s, preferably in his usual position of midfield. He may have to wait until next season to fully achieve that objective but he is certainly heading in the right direction.