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'Been working’: Arsenal defender says he's been really trying to get better at passing recently
Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

'Been working’: Arsenal defender says he's been really trying to get better at passing recently

Arsenal youngster Brooke Norton-Cuffy has talked about what aspects of his game he wants to improve, including how he’s been working on his passing.

The 18-year-old full-back is about to sign a new contract at Arsenal with less than a year left on his current deal.

In an interview with Scouted Football, he talked about what areas of improvement he’s working on, and who he looks up to in his position. “I would probably say my range of passing.

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“If you watch Trent (Alexander-Arnold) or Reece James, they have those big diagonals in their locker or clipped balls in behind, and as a full back that really opens up the game for you.

“I’ve also been working on my final ball and decision making, which is more about whether to whip it across goal, cut it back, stand it up to the back post – I know I can do it – but it’s about being able to execute with consistency.”

Although Norton-Cuffy names Alexander-Arnold and James as role models for improving those aspects of his game, he also has an example of how to refine these skills closer to home.

Norton-Cuffy already has role models in the Arsenal squad

Another homegrown talent at Arsenal, Bukayo Saka, broke into the first team at full-back and impressed with his ability going forward.

In the interview, Norton-Cuffy talks about how he arrived at Arsenal from Chelsea as a striker, and so shadowing Saka, who has had to make a similar transition from attacker to defender at times, will help him realise his first-team ambitions.

If Norton-Cuffy looks outside of his position for inspiration for working on his passing, Martin Odegaard is the obvious option at Arsenal.

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The new club captain is one of the best passers in the league, with only Alexander-Arnold, Bruno Fernandes and Kevin De Bruyne delivering more key passes last season.

The 18-year-old also needs to make sure he’s developing skills that will be most useful in the systems he plays in.

Norton-Cuffy’s passing is important, but not key to Arsenal breakthrough

Although the long, diagonal pass is a great skill to have, it’s not a tactic Mikel Arteta tends to use very often.

Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Against Crystal Palace, full-backs Ben White and Oleksandr Zinchenko attempted six long passes each, but only completed four between them.

In contrast, William Saliba and Gabriel, Arsenal’s central defenders, were the only outfield players to attempt more than 10, and so although Norton-Cuffy should continue to work on these aspects of his game, it’s not essential to break into Arteta’s first team plans.

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