Arsenal defender benefits from return to the side

Arsenal's Carl Jenkinson (left) and Everton's Leon Osman battle for the ball

Arsenal's Carl Jenkinson (left) and Everton's Leon Osman battle for the ball - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

Defender Carl Jenkinson is confident that another extended run in the Arsenal side will bring out the best in him.

Right-back Jenkinson, who started four games in a row earlier in the campaign, returned to the Gunners’ rearguard last week in place of the injured Bacary Sagna.

Until they conceded a late equaliser to Everton on Sunday, the back four had been virtually watertight over the last two months – and the 21-year-old says that makes slotting into the team far more straightforward.

“I love playing for this club and I’m alongside very good players, so that makes it a lot easier to come into the side,” said Jenkinson. “It’s a joy to play with them.

“On a personal note as well as with the team, I’ve got aspirations to achieve this season. When we’re playing as we have been it’s a pleasure to be involved.

“I want to keep getting forward and getting assists and playing as many times as possible. As a defender, when you’re playing regularly and get that little run, you tend to find the best in yourself.

“There’s good communication among the back five, we’ve all got a lot of trust in one another – and it’s also the midfield. Everyone’s been working very hard as a team defensively and I think that’s shown.

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“We’ve got the talent to open teams up, it’s just important that we keep it tight at the back. It was a bit disappointing to concede [against Everton], but I suppose you’re not going to keep a clean sheet every time.”

Gerard Deulofeu’s 84th-minute equaliser on Sunday – which cancelled out the opener from Mesut Ozil just a few minutes earlier – was only the second time Arsenal’s defence had been breached in nine matches.

That prevented Arsene Wenger’s side from extending their advantage at the top of the Premier League to seven points, but Jenkinson feels the result should be viewed in an upbeat manner.

“It was probably a fair result, looking at the whole game,” Jenkinson reflected. “Of course it’s frustrating because, having scored when we did, we wanted to go on and win the game.

“We didn’t play as well as we can do and Everton are a strong side – they’ve got a lot of talented players and they played some good football. We’re not going to be exceptional in every single game.

“But we’ve come out of it with a relatively positive result, so it’s far from the end of the world. This result’s not a disaster – in fact we’ve come out of the game further ahead than we were before.”

While the Gunners full-back was careful to adhere to the old adage of taking each game at a time, there is one fixture looming over the coming weeks that cannot be ignored.

Arsenal’s pairing with north London rivals Tottenham – their first FA Cup meeting since the 2001 semi-final – was the obvious stand-out tie of Sunday’s third round draw.

“It didn’t take long for word to get around that we’d got Spurs,” admitted Jenkinson. “That’s the sort of game we all want to play in and the fans love derbies like that.

“I’m sure it’ll be a great game, and it’s one that we’re all looking forward to.”

Arsenal have won three of their previous five FA Cup clashes with Tottenham, but the teams have not met at this early stage of the competition since 1949, when the Gunners triumphed 3-0 at Highbury.