Arsenal head into Sunday’s game knowing that the man most likely to score for their opponents could actually be on the wrong wide.
Had injuries and some poor loan spells not had their way with Benik Afobe, the striker could be first choice at Arsenal by now. Coming through the same youth team as Jack Wilshere, the Leyton-born striker was eventually sold to Wolves last January but is already back in the Premier League.
Before that transfer a number of loan spells in the lower leagues didn’t work out brilliantly, until he found himself at MK Dons. His form there caught the eye and he hasn’t looked back since. A year on and he’s in the Premier League and scoring goals already, so why didn’t he get his chance at Arsenal?
“He was very young, he had big competition in front of him with Robin van Persie, and players like that, so I gave him authorisation to go somewhere and play, which he did,” Arsène Wenger explained to the media on Friday morning.
“You educate people to influence their lives and give them success, that is what we do. When they do not manage to play for us, if they do it somewhere else we are of course very happy for them. Benik has done extremely well, even beyond the expectations of many people and that’s great, that’s down to him and congratulations to him.”
Hopefully the decision to let Afobe go doesn’t come back to haunt us. With three goals in four games for Bournemouth, the striker is a huge threat.
His signing and his goals have seen Bournemouth’s form improve, and they now sit a healthy-looking seven points above the relegation zone.
“I’ve always said that they will avoid relegation since the start of the season when I saw them play,” Wenger said. “They have enough substance in their game to stay up.”