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Alex planning ahead for Boy Blues

Alex Gibson Head of Youth Coaching at Academy Platt Lane 2008

Alex Gibson Head of Youth Coaching at Academy Platt Lane 2008

ALEX GIBSON has warned Arsenal's FA Youth Cup challengers that the Boy Blues have the beating of Arsene Wenger's young warriors - and the City think tank is already close to a blueprint for semi-final victory.

ALEX GIBSON has warned Arsenal's FA Youth Cup challengers that the Boy Blues have the beating of Arsene Wenger's young warriors - and the City think tank is already close to a blueprint for semi-final victory.

Coach Gibson and Academy manager Jim Cassell watched highly-rated Arsenal see off derby hosts Tottenham 3-1 on Thursday night before steering City's cup holders to a hard-fought 1-0 win over Norwich on Saturday.

But despite a star-studded squad that includes boy wonder Jack Wilshere, Arsenal's youngest-ever first-team player at 16 and a scorer against Sheffield United, Gibson is confident City's youngsters can prevail.

And he believes the physical examination presented by resolute Norwich, who missed a penalty and were only beaten by Robbie Mak's brilliant 19th-minute decider, will help prepare for Arsenal's strong players.

The sides clash over two legs, with the first at the City of Manchester Stadium on March 18, and Gibson said:  "We'll be looking to win - we think we can beat Arsenal, and we'll plan accordingly to do that.

"We've got the game plan almost set now. We'll aim to do well at home and then it will be a great occasion for them at The Emirates. I saw them at Aston Villa a couple of months ago and they're as good a team as we'll see.
 
"They have big strikers, they're all good athletes, and they are a well-organised and structured team. They will be a real challenge for us, and we look forward to it. We're sitting down and planning and we can hardly wait."

Norwich provided a robust quarter-final challenge for the Boy Blues, who are now unbeaten in 24 league and cup games this season, but Bratislava-born Mak produced a goal of the highest quality to squeeze City home.

Gibson said: "It doesn't matter which side he pops up, he's always a threat. We do a lot of work on quick-break play and once Robbie is put through he's a real handful. If he gets his heels ahead he's difficult to stop.

"We can play better than that, but the attitude and application was great. We battled superbly. There are no poor teams left at this stage - we expected a physical duel and we got one. But we dug in and we handled it.

"Norwich performed very well and they did their club and their coaches proud. Sometimes you get a bit of luck, but you also make your luck by hard work and graft, and I thought we did that on Saturday."

 

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