Chuba Akpom started and played the first-half of Arsenal u23s’ 2-1 victory over bottom side Derby County on Friday.
The 21-year-old forward, who impressed for the senior side in pre-season, has been unfortunate with untimely injuries at promising moments where his presence in the first-team could’ve been called upon.
Now, it’s a case of getting the talented forward back to full fitness and aiming to loan him out to a Championship side that will guarantee him regular minutes in his preferred position – especially given the lack of development seen by a significant portion of Arsenal’s players loaned out at the start of the current campaign.
Against Derby, he operated as the lone striker in a 4231 formation.
Stephy Mavididi operated just behind him in a number 10 role, and it doesn’t come as much of a surprise that both were involved in promising goalscoring opportunities before the interval.
Mavididi saw his powerful effort crash off the crossbar while Akpom’s strike was pushed narrowly past the post by goalkeeper Henrich Navas. He did his reputation no harm with his individual display and although unspectacular, it was mainly about improving match sharpness for a forward who has shown encouraging signs at times but injuries have hampered further development in-and-around the senior squad.
His substitution at the interval was presumably planned as the coaching staff will be eager to ensure no reccurence of the back injury that has kept him out.
With that in mind, it’s important not to expect too much from Akpom too quickly, but it is likely that he’ll feature again for the u23s at some stage in January unless he secures a loan move elsewhere before then.