From a results perspective last season was far from a vintage for the Arsenal under-23s.
The young Gunners were only able to secure their Premier League 2 survival on the final day of the campaign, and the poor nature of their performances ultimately led to long serving coach Steve Bould getting sacked.
This time around though, things are very different. Under the tutelage of Kevin Betsy the under-23s now sit top of PL2 having scored 29 goals in the space of just 10 matches.
It’s quite the turnaround, and there are few who embody the upturn in fortunes more than Tim Akinola.
The 20-year-old midfielder arrived in north London last season after being released from Huddersfield and didn’t exactly have the best of starts.
Asked to play in a deeper lying role the youngster struggled to find his best form and a low point probably came as he was shown a second yellow card for kicking the ball away in a Papa John’s Trophy defeat to AFC Wimbledon.
This year though he has thrived in Betsy’s new 5-3-2 formation where he is given more license to exhibit his box-to-box capabilities.
To say this tactical tweak is the only reason he’s improved though would be to ignore the amount of hard work Akinola has done personally.
With the presences of Charlie Patino, Salah Oulad-M’Hand and James Olayinka, concerns were raised over the amount of game time the former Huddersfield youngster was likely to get.