Southampton Under-23s visit their Arsenal counterparts on Friday night, with coach Radhi Jaïdi expecting a good contest between the sides.
Saints have started the season strongly, sitting second in Premier League 2, and will be hoping to continue their form, as they visit Boreham Wood’s Meadow Park stadium for the clash with the Gunners.
"Arsenal is always a good team, full of good individuals,” said Jaïdi. “They like to control and dominate the game.
“As I said, they have some quality up front and in the wide and midfield areas, so we will try to stop them, deal with their strengths and use their weaknesses.”
Saints’ last outing saw them record a 2-1 win at Colchester United in the Checkatrade Trophy, and Jaïdi hopes they can now take that experience forwards.
"It was really a good experience for the younger boys to be involved in this kind of competition, playing against older, senior boys,” he said.
“It gives them a taste of what the next level looks like, and that's what we're trying to do all the time – challenge the boys, whether in the academy or playing different competitions, because we're trying to send them to the next level.”
There has already been plenty of progression among the academy players this season, with some of the Under-23s making inroads into the first-team, while Jaïdi and Technical Director Martin Hunter have made regular use of some of the Under-18s.
"That's what we are about in this academy,” said Jaïdi. “We are showing the path to the players. It's not just talk, we show them and give them that opportunity if they show a good performance.
“Players who perform with the 18s can find themselves easily with the 23s, then you see 23s boys training with the first-team day in and day out, so that's what it's all about.”