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New York: the launch of the career of Chuba Akpom

By Tony Attwood

So, as you will have seen, Arsenal have taken about 2,356 midfielders to New York, but only one centre forward: Chuba Akpom.

Actually I think I miscounted on the midfielders, and the number is actually 11.  But still it is quite a few for just one game.

Here’s the full list

  • Goalkeepers: Damien Martinez, Wojciech Szczesny
  • Defenders: Hector Bellerin, Kieran Gibbs, Isaac Hayden, Carl Jenkinson, Ignasi Miquel, Nacho Monreal
  • Midfielders: Mikel Arteta, Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Abou Diaby, Mathieu Flamini, Kristoffer Olsson, Aaron Ramsey, Tomas Rosicky, Jon Toral, Jack Wilshere, Gedion Zelalem
  • Forward: Chuba Akpom

So what is going on?  Where is Sanogo? etc etc etc

Of course I don’t know what’s been said and done – all I can say is that it didn’t look to me as if Sanogo was ready to break his duck in the first pre-season game, so maybe he has been given extra training, and will pick up with the rest of the squad in Austria.  There’s no point taking a player to New York just for the ride.

And 0f course maybe Chuba is now so good he can take on the role of centre forward all on his own.   (Or maybe Sanogo is injured).

Or maybe we are playing a new formation.  Or using players in different positions.

I remember once seeing Diaby play as a fake centre forward in 2008 in the Fenerbahce 2-Arsenal 5 European Cup game.  Maybe we will see an experiment in which Ramsey, although nominally midfield is actually a forward in disguise.  (Remembering that although we got used to it over time, the notion of playing both Pires and Henry on the left wing so that either of them could suddenly pitch up in the number 9 position, was revolutionary when it started, and was heavily criticised).

And that is the point.  Working in secret in training on a new formation is what precedes these early games – and until we see it happen, we just don’t know what is going on.   Maybe there is something to be revealed which will also explain more about Mr Wenger’s coolness over signing another centre forward.  Maybe its not about Sanogo and Campbell at all but about the emergence of Chuba.

So what on earth do we expect from Chuba?  Here’s his record so far.

Season Team League Games
2013–14 Arsenal 1
2014 Brentford (loan) 4
2014 Coventry City (loan) 6

Drew and I went to see him play for Coventry, and he was impressive, but for me not utterly impressive, and of course not playing alongside or against players that we will see in New York.

He made his début for our under 18s aged 15 and became a pro aged 17 years and 1 day.   He played 20 times in the Under 21 league in 2012/13 and scored 13.  He played and scored four in last summer’s tour of Asia and played against WBA in the league cup last season – and scored one of the penalties.

For Untold, Ian went to watch the FA Youth Cup game in which Akpom scored a hattrick in a 6–1 FA Youth Cup game against Peterborough in January this year.

Brentford Manager Mark Warburton said, “Chuba is strong and quick, with a very good first touch. He’s greedy and enjoys scoring goals. It’s his first loan spell and League One is tough, so he might take some time to adapt. It’s a big jump from Under 21 football”.

Chuba has made numerous international appearances including six games and two goals in England’s 2012 European under 17 campaign.  He scored for the under 19s in September 2012 in another Euro championship – this time against Estonia., playing in five of the under 19 qualifying games scoring three.

So is this the player we have been waiting for?  I have to say, having seen him play for Coventry, I can’t be sure, but then that’s why I write about football rather than manage a team.

It is a dramatic move by Mr Wenger – but then, that’s what he does best.  This could be really interesting.

Let’s come back finally to making sense of the players going.  Mr Wenger isn’t going to take players for fun, although we might expect Damien Martinez to spend his game on the bench with Wojciech Szczesny properly warming up for what is to come.  Even if you aren’t going to use him, you need a second keeper.

We have six defenders in four positions, so we could see two that Mr Wenger really wants to watch playing the whole game, while two others get swapped at half time.

Midfield is the puzzle.  If we were to assume that Akpom will play the whole match, we have five places left, so even if everyone gets half a game each, that is still one player not getting a game.

Which suggests we are going to play two defending midfield, three attacking midfield and one forward through the game, with everyone getting half a match, except Akpom who could get 75% of the game and be replaced for the last quarter.

If I guess who plays where I’ll make even more of an idiot of myself than usual, but if you suddenly see Diaby playing as a forward, you can compliment me on my predictive brilliance.  And if Coquelin does well, you might want to recall my thoughts on him before he went on loan last year.

Or not, as the case may be.

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14 comments to New York: the launch of the career of Chuba Akpom

  • oldgroover

    It’s a shame that such a prestigious game couldn’t have been scheduled for a time when we had more regular first team players available. Hope the supporters & team members of New York Bulls aren’t too disappointed at the lack of World Cup stars.

  • finsbury

    Very exciting player. Looked the part albeit against a tiring West Brom team last year in the carling cup as the game went into extra time, Bellerin too.

    I think the teenagers are breaking into the first team at a slightly later age since Chamberlain was signed, all a part of the evolutionary process or a reaction to the hacking I don’t know, but both Gnabry and Chamberlain have been gently eased into the first team. Last year Chambo looked just as exciting as Rambo in pre-season, and then he was Anthony Taylored after being the best player on the park in the opening 45 minutes of the season. A bigger miss for England then Arsenal. But I guess Riley doesn’t care (please refer to the blatant and undeniable James Rodrigezesque hacking Wilshere receives every other game in the PL).

    Possibly a Gnabry type season for Akpom? It all depends if any others go on loan for various reasons. Campbell definitely benefitted from his loans, eight CL games last year and the league games did him the world of good (though Arsenal could have done with him when unfortunately Walcott, Chambo, Gnabry and even Podolski were out!). Very astute stewardship of Campbell, which must be very encouraging for all these exciting young forwards.

    I think Chuba will make it! 😉

  • I am happy for Chuba for this opportunity. I hope he gets more as I think that he is a bold kid who has the skill and strength to make it. I am rooting for him.

    It always feels extremely good when our youngsters make it into the senior team. I celebrate that more than record breaking signings.

  • WalterBroeckx

    Maybe when Akpom is taking off we get to see an old centre forward taking his place? When NYRB came to the Emirates it was the intention to make TH swap teams at some point but the refs wouldn’t allow such blasphemy against the holy rule book at the time. No need to remind it were English referees of course.
    Both teams agreed to do it but the PGMOL gang could not even stand the thought. In a pre season friendly FFS

    So in stead of Diaby suddenly playing CF at the end….why not TH?

  • ARSENAL 13

    Premier league is a step too high for Chuba, I think. But then hez been doing it all his career, didn’t he. Playing for the age group well above where we expect him to play. If given a chance, I think he’ll make it.

    But Coquelin, I don’t know. I just feel hez lacking that 1%, that makes a player a Gunner….but then I am no Wenger. I thought Ozyakup had it all, but he couldn’t.

  • bjtgooner

    I was quite impressed with Chuba during last summer’s pre season tour and it is encouraging to see him included in the tour again this summer. I look forward to seeing him play, he is still very young and has the potential to develop into an excellent striker.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Would love to see this guy make it, good luck Chuba!

  • hasan

    If Oscar at the Blues can,Chuba Akpom can do even better.

  • Will

    I have not seen enough of Akpom to make any kind of judgement but his scoring record looks good so who knows. I still think we need another top class strikers, someone who’ll get you 25+ league goals a season and whose name alone scares PL defenders.

    Then again, I would like to return to the old 4-4-2.

  • WalterBroeckx

    One player that didn’t make it at Arsenal was Chucks Aneke. He was released by Arsenal this summer and went to Belgium to Zulte Waregem.
    I haven’t seen the match as it wasn’t shown on TV but he seems to be doing rather well. Usually in the starting line up and in the two qualification matches for the spursday Europa league he was one of their better players if I can believe the reports.
    Yesterday he scored the second goal in their 1-3 win in Poland against a Polish team that I never heard of and will not even bother to write their name down.

    I sure will keep an eye on his development over here in Belgium and hope Aneke does become a big star over here.

  • nicky

    All this talk about Akpom, plus Campbell, Sanogo, Giroud and Walcott, only seems to confirm that Arsene isn’t inclined to seek another striker this summer.

  • para

    AW surely has plans.
    Looks like it’s going to be an exciting Arsenal season.
    There is a different air about the team now, like when you don’t just believe something, but rather has come to know it.