Akpom hoping for final chance to salvage Arsenal career

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A host of young players left Arsenal during the summer transfer window but, rather surprisingly, Chuba Akpom was not amongst them.

Having been omitted from the travelling squad for the club’s pre-season tour of Australia and China, it appeared that Akpom’s long association with Arsenal was set to come to a conclusion.

However, an injury suffered during a pre-season friendly for the U23s against Leyton Orient delayed a deal from happening and, even though he has since returned to full fitness, the striker remains on Arsenal’s books, until January at least.

Although he is still young, Akpom can no longer be classified as a youth player. He turns 22 next month and will have to take up a senior squad space if he is to be eligible to represent Arsenal in the Premier League and the Europa League.

Thankfully, with several players having moved on either permanently or temporarily in the closing stages of the transfer window, there is now space for Akpom to be included on both squad lists, indicating that the Hale End product may well get one last chance to salvage his Arsenal career.

At one stage it appeared almost inevitable that Akpom would at least be given a sustained run of games in the first-team at Arsenal but that outcome hasn’t transpired and the attacker has been unable to make any sort of impact during his various loan spells.

In fact, across his stints with Brentford, Coventry City, Nottingham Forest, Hull City and Brighton & Hove Albion, he has mustered just seven goals in 79 games across all competitions – a woeful return for a striker.

Yet Akpom clearly possesses at least some talent – he was prolific for Arsenal at youth level and developed a habit of scoring for the first-team in pre-season friendlies, while he has also been impressive for the various England development sides.

Most notably he has had some encouraging outings on the rare occasions that he has featured competitively for the Arsenal first-team – he won a penalty against Aston Villa in the Premier League three seasons ago, while last campaign he impressed in the EFL Cup victory over Nottingham Forest.

Injuries have also hampered Akpom’s progress and it appeared very likely that there would be a parting of the ways between him and Arsenal.

He is still at the club, however, and will initially play at U23 level, while he will be aiming to be involved in the League Cup and the Europa League.

With the talented Eddie Nketiah making great strides, there is no guarantee that Akpom will get any first-team game time but he will hope to be given one final chance to impress at the club.

Whereas previously Akpom could have been accused of being rather selfish in terms of his playing style, he does appear to have developed as a consequence of his loans and can now be seen dropping deeper and playing impressive passes for his team-mates to run onto.

He will now be hoping to get back into Arsene Wenger’s plans in some capacity.

Jeorge Bird is the author of http://arsenalyouth.wordpress.com/, follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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