Zak Swanson went into this season knowing the importance of it – this is the campaign in which it will be decided whether or not he will be given a professional contract at Arsenal.
Midway through 2018/19, Swanson can certainly be pleased with the contribution that he has made, although it still isn’t guaranteed that he will be retained.
The 18-year-old may not be one of the most hyped youngsters on Arsenal’s books, but he is certainly one of the most versatile.
With Joel Lopez not eligible to play in the opening weeks of the season as he waited to receive international clearance following his move from Barcelona, Swanson filled in at left-back for the U18s and produced some encouraging performances.
Matters took a turn for the worse when he was sent off against Southampton for two bookable offences, but Swanson managed to bounce back and impressed in a more natural central midfield role upon his return.
Swanson also played at right-back against Fulham in the league and found the net, while he scored against Northampton Town in the FA Youth Cup when deployed in the opposite full-back berth.
The Hale End product is also capable of playing as a winger and is guaranteed to be fully committed regardless of where he is on the pitch.
An impressive crosser of the ball, Swanson is a skilful player, although he isn’t especially strong physically.
This season has seen Swanson make some excellent progress and the fact that he was selected ahead of Lopez at left-back against Northampton is testament to that.
Arsenal will take on Tottenham Hotspur in the next round of the Youth Cup and that intriguing fixture could present Swanson with a chance to enhance his reputation even further.
The next aim for Swanson will be to try and break into the U23 squad, having previously been an unused substitute against Tottenham at that level last season.
As far as his overall quest to get a professional deal is going, though, he is certainly heading in the right direction.