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Sunday, 22 December 2013

Arsenal's Youngsters: Chuba Akpom

Due to Arsenal's recent fixture schedule I haven't had time to do as many of these as I would like. However, I've managed to find time and here is the 4th in the series. For this article I'll be taking a look into one of the club's best attacking prospects in the form of Chuba Akpom.

Chuba Akpom is only 18 and has been at the club through most of his youth and shot to prominence with some star displays last season. He started out with the under 18's but quickly rose to the task of featuring for the U21's and the NextGen side. He made his U18's debut at the tender age of 15 and then just after turning 17 was awarded with his first professional contract.
Chuba Akpom in action against West Brom this season
He's a tall pacey striker with a certain eye for goal. He has most of the attributes you'd want in a top class striker. He holds the ball up very well and brings others into the game more often that not. He's a little similar to Olivier Giroud in the sense that they both can score goals yet set up plenty of opportunities for their team mates too. He's the definition of a poacher and most of his goals come from close range. Another feature of his game is his first touch whilst also being able to get the ball out of his feet quickly too. I've seen him play just the once in person. It was in a pre-season friendly win over Chesham United at the beginning of 2012/13, and he looked a real presence as he scored once in a 6-2 win.

As mentioned, Akpom became a real noticeable figure at the club last season, starring for the youth teams. He started on 29 occasions and scored 17 goals, including 13 in the U-21 league and twice in the NextGen series. This season hasn't been as productive as last campaign though as he's scored just once in 8 games. However, he's been in and out of the team for a few reasons which has disrupted his form. Due to injuries he's been included in the first team a few times and earned a first Premier League appearance against Sunderland in September as a substitute. He then came on for a good cameo against West Brom in the League cup and even scored a penalty. He played out on the right and managed to stretch the game by adding extra pace on the counter. Pre-season was where he really shone though. He scored three on the clubs Asia Tour, one against Indonesia, twice against Vietnam and then also grabbing one against Urawa.

From that we can tell that he's definitely cut-out for the top level and it should only be a matter of time before we start seeing him involved more regularly in the first team. His development will depend on the likes of Sanogo and Afobe. The latter has been starting ahead of him in the U21 league this season whilst Yaya has spent the majority of the season out injured. Had Afobe not been injured last season then Akpom may not have actually got his chance at all. It's very refreshing to see such a young English talent so hopefully he'll go far. He reminds me of Saido Berahino of West Brom. Whether he'll go as far as starting like Berahino in the Premier League remains to be seen though. He's certainly a very bright prospect and has the talent to go far. Whether that will be at Arsenal is another case though.
                  Video of Chuba Akpom in action for Arsenal and the England youth teams:

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