Arsenal do not have any fixtures to fulfil at any level below the first-team until mid-January, but there are several youngsters within the confines of London Colney who, for various reasons, will be particularly determined to prove their worth when the games get underway in 2013. Here are five players who, in no particular order, will be hoping for better times next year.
1) DEYAN ILIEV
The Macedonian goalkeeper, signed on transfer deadline day last summer, has struggled for game time since his arrival at the club, with the impressive Reice Charles-Cook often being preferred instead. Iliev was largely impressive when handed a chance to shine against Newcastle United in the FA Youth Cup, however, and, even if his distribution does require some improvement, he will be hopeful of featuring more regularly at various levels in the New Year.
2) ANTHONY JEFFREY
An exceptionally quick winger- he was once the third fastest schoolboy his age in the country- Jeffrey has consistently shone for the U18s since making his breakthrough at that level two seasons ago. He was surprisingly overlooked for a professional contract in the summer, however, and is currently facing a battle to prolong his stay at the club. His impressive display against Newcastle, where he found the net and also created several opportunities, should strengthen his case considerably.
3) JOSH REES
A promising player capable of operating in a variety of midfield positions, Rees endured a difficult 2012 as he was frequently sidelined through injury, and he has scarcely featured for the U21s this season, whilst he is now too old for the U18s. A hard worker and willing runner, he will seek to be more heavily involved in the near future.
4) ARINSE UADE
The defender, who can play at left-back or centre-back and has been capped by Nigeria at youth level, earned a scholarship at Arsenal having impressed for the U16s last season, but has since found the step up to full-time football at London Colney a rather difficult one. He committed several avoidable errors earlier in the season, and was also sent off recently, but he ended 2012 on a high with a rare goal in the mauling of Blackburn Rovers at U18 level and will hope that is the signal of better things to come in 2013.
5) TARUM DAWKINS
Arsenal fought off competition from several Premier League and Championship clubs to secure the signature of Dawkins from Luton Town following a successful trial early last season. Like many of his fellow first-years, however, the tricky winger struggled to adapt early on, failing to beat opponents with the nonchalant ease that he had done so in the past. He looks to have turned a corner, however, with two goals in successive games before Christmas, and will be hopeful of breaking into the U21 squad before the campaign is out.