It has been a rather strange season for Miguel Azeez.
When the highly regarded midfielder was sent out on loan to Portsmouth it was hoped that the temporary switch could help him take his game to the next level.
It didn’t quite transpire like that, with Azeez not getting as much playing time as he had hoped for.
Azeez then returned to Arsenal and it was initially anticipated that he would provide an extra option for the first-team.
However, Azeez has yet to be called up to the first-team since his return and has instead gone back to being a regular for the U23s.
Some of his performances for the second-string have been underwhelming, and he continued in that vein during the first half of last night’s Premier League Cup game away to Middlesbrough.
As the game wore on, though, Azeez started to become increasingly influential and, rather encouragingly, took the game by the scruff of the neck, which isn’t always something that can be said of him.
Azeez dropped deep in midfield and set the tempo for Arsenal’s play with a plethora of pinpoint passes.
Arsenal may have ended up losing on penalties but Azeez can take great encouragement from this display.
It has always been clear that Azeez has much ability, especially with regards to his technique, but far too often he has been too passive in games.
If he can regularly perform as he did last night then Azeez could still have a good chance of succeeding at Arsenal.
Azeez’s immediate objective will be to finish the season strongly with the U23s and perhaps become more involved with the first-team.
Next season will be hugely important for Azeez’s development and he could go on loan again, with Arsenal having to choose his destination very carefully.
The hope now will be that Azeez can play with greater consistency and dominate games on a more regular basis.