With a brace to his name in tonight’s game with Derby, Chuba Akpom has taken his u23 tally to 3 goals in 2 appearances.
Part of the first team picture in the summer, alarm bells rang when he failed to feature in the season opener against Liverpool despite the absence of main striker Olivier Giroud.
Instead the 20 year old had to make do with a place on the bench, an unused sub as Arsenal were thumped 4-3 by Jurgen Klopp’s side.
The defeat forced manager Arsene Wenger’s hand, and the Frenchman delved into the transfer market signing amongst others striker Lucas Perez.
The arrival of the Spaniard has further pushed Akpom down the pecking order, but why can’t the talented youngster get a game and even more puzzling, why was he kept at the Emirates rather than sent out on loan?
Akpom is no stranger to the loan system having been sent out to cut his teeth in the lower leagues 4 times. Spells with Brentford, Coventry, Nottingham Forest and Hull, whom he helped gain promotion from the Championship, have served him well and he continues to impress when the chance arises but still he can’t seem to crack the first team.
Wenger is seemingly a fan of the England youth international, saying of Akpom following a hattrick in a pre season friendly against a Singapore XI:
I know he has potential, he has an aggressive desire in the box. He can brush people away, he has an intense desire to score.
I believe this is an encouragement to him to work even harder and to show he can play in the first team.
I believe he can, and after that it is down to the players. I see in him something I found interesting last year. He went out on loan, he learnt what it is to play when you need to win games.
And following a run of 4 goals in 4 games during this pre season, he was name checked by the manager again, saying:
“We have a few who are had a very good pre-season like Chris Willock, Jeff Reine-Adelaide and Chuba Akpom. They are the three who have been outstanding—Krystian Bielik as well has done extremely well. They could play.”
But the striker finds himself playing at u23 level, with first team football looking distant.
Akpom will be looking at friend Alex Iwobi, who has seemingly made the transition to youth player to first teamer permanently, and hope to follow suit yet it won’t happen if he isn’t afforded the same chances.
It is all good and well rolling Akpom out in pre season showcases, but if he is to have the same impact on the first team that Iwobi has, simply he needs to play proper competitive games.
As seen, he is better than the standard of football played at u23 where he could score freely given a whole season. Instead he needs to be tested at first team level, with a loan move suiting him perfectly if he wasn’t going to be considered for the first team.
At 20 time is on Akpom’s side, couple this with that the faith that has been shown in him after he was handed a new four-and-a-half-year contract last January to keep him at the club until 2019 and you get the picture of a player that Arsenal know is talented.
But the resounding question remains, when will he be given a real chance to show off his talent?