Arsene Wenger has revealed that he wants to include Chuba Akpom in his first team plans for the coming season. The 19-year-old youngster impressed all watching Arsenal fans in the first match of Arsenal’s pre-season tour. Akpom scored a hat-trick as he helped Arsenal beat Singapore Select XI 4-0 in the semi-final of the Barclays Asia Trophy final yesterday and the Gunners now advance to play the final against Everton on Saturday.
The English teenager has made just four senior appearances for the Gunners. He joined the club at the age of six and was long penciled to be a future English player. He shunned interest from Premier League rivals to sign a new long-term contract last season to stay at the Emirates.
He had brief loan spells away from the club at Brentford, Coventry City and Nottingham Forest. These spells, however, could not provide him with the platform to showcase his talent. There were rumours that Wenger wants to sign a quality striker to provide competition to Olivier Giroud and that may have resulted in another loan spell for Akpom, but new signings or not, Wenger now wants to keep Akpom firmly at the club for the new season. The manager insists that the teenager has the potential to make it big at the club and will soon be given a chance at the Emirates Stadium.
“I am delighted and not surprised because he has a killer instinct, you can feel his aggressive desire in the box,” Wenger said about Akpom.
“That capacity to push defenders away, brush them away with his power is there. He needs to work hard and hopefully he will be encouraged by his three goals.
“This is the age [where] you want them to push on. You can see that the other players see that when he plays he can score a goal for them. He will be fed by the confidence of them, so that is good.”
Wenger could be thinking of Akpom as cover for Giroud and the currently injured Danny Welbeck. Otherwise his options will be to involve Alexis Sanchez or Theo Walcott as strikers, unless he goes on to sign a new striker.
Coming to the match, there were times in the first half when Arsenal were frustrated by the hosts. The second half was completely dominated by the Gunners but Wenger was overall happy to see the workout for his team in the first pre-season game.
Akpom may well realise that this hat-trick may not have come against quality opposition but it definitely caught the eye of his manager. It would have guaranteed him a place in the final against Everton which could prove a sterner test.
But, a bigger test would be to challenge for the striker position. There is enough encouragement from Wenger for the young forward and it is now up to Akpom to cash on that. As Wenger said, it is now down to performance and attitude of the player to achieve better things. The talent was never in question….