Rising Star: Chuba Akpom
Today I welcome Billy Dunmore, better known as @EducatedGooner Follow Billy!, as a guest blogger to North London Is Red. Billy is a North London Gooner from birth and has been writing since November 2012. He is a self-proclaimed ‘blog-whore’ who roams the cyber streets in search of blogging pimps to host his articles and I’m delighted to have him on NLIR. Take it away Billy…..
Well, it seems as if the Arsenal academy just can’t stop producing top-quality talent. The latest youngster who is catching more than a few eyes is 17 year old striker, Chuba Akpom. Only on Tuesday night, he scored 2 goals for the England U19’s, bringing his tally up to an outstanding 5 goals in 4 games for the side. Over the past year, Chuba has risen through the ranks at quite an astounding rate and, in my opinion, is probably the most exciting Arsenal-made English prospect that we can look forward to in the next few years. From playing in the Arsenal U18′s at just 15 and 16, and despite his tender age Chuba is now an indispensable member of Terry Burton’s U21′s side (in both the U21 Premier League and the Next Gen Series) as well as performing excellently for the England U19′s of late. He was also called up to the Arsenal first team squad (subs bench) for their trip to Olympiakos in the Champions League group stages in the latter part of last year, having signed his first professional contract in October 2012. Rather impressive, I must say. Having heard about this rise to prominence, I decided to investigate the player himself, his style of play, what he does best, how he fit’s the ‘British Core’ mould and his potential for stardom.
About Chuba Akpom… Chuba Akpom is Arsenal through and through, which is something I always love hearing with regard to up and coming talents. He grew up supporting the club and was scouted by Arsenal whilst playing Sunday league at the age of 6 years old. Ever-since then, Chuba has lived and breathed Arsenal, adapting to and learning the club’s identifiable way of playing football. In an interview I was reading whilst researching Akpom, he made it clear that Arsenal put a big emphasis on youngsters’ education alongside their footballing development. Chuba says that “you have to go to college”, by which I assume he means 6th Form College. I find this very encouraging as it is nice to know that these youngsters are not only developing as players, but also as people. This is, in my opinion, hugely important for a footballer’s *AW voice* ‘mental strength’ and security which is oh-so important when one is under such huge amounts of pressure. Of course, a decent level of education also gives these younger players something to fall back on if, god forbid, their career is shortened by serious injury. Sound the Arsenal DNA klaxon!
What sort of player is Chuba? I have only seen videos of Chuba in action, but it seems to me that he has certain qualities that make him very adaptable to a higher level of football than his age may suggest he is used to.
I was quite big so it was easier to adapt, but was still hard playing against 18/19 year olds. I got used to it though.
Chuba Akpom looking back at his breakthrough into the Arsenal U18′s at 15 years old.
First and foremost, he is an exceptionally strong player for his age with the sort of presence that can cause defenders to fear him. He is ferocious in his runs, has pace enough to beat defenders, he is solid in hold-up play and efficient when it comes to goal-scoring. All of these are trademarks of a great, true striker, a position that’s usability has become threatened somewhat as a result of the modern game becoming more centered around intricate passing and movement (unless you are Stoke City, of course). But the great thing is that Chuba also has the more technical elements to the game in his locker. I personally believe that powerful strikers with good dribbling ability are still one of the most important and effective types of players in football, and when you combine that with 10+ years of learning at the Arsenal Academy, you have yourself a player with serious potential. What I love about Chuba, is that he combines brawn with brains. This is best exemplified when he turns his marker, either using strength to push him aside, or using cunning and pace to run around his man while they are ball watching. I would say that this lethal combination comes as a result of both nature and nurture. He is clearly a naturally intelligent and gifted player, but from what I have seen of him and like I said previously, he shows the signs and effects of good coaching, he has been taught to play in a particular way. That being ‘The Arsenal Way’.
He’ll fit in nicely… Chuba Akpom is not just a great prospect, but also an English one. This may prove to be quite important regarding his future at Arsenal as, over the past year, we have seen Arsène Wenger begin pushing the idea of a ‘British Core’ at the club. Wenger wants, and has begun, to create a core of young, talented and committed Brits, around which he intends to add proven talent from across the globe. Chuba most certainly has the makings of another very important part of this master-plan. Like the other Englishmen at the club, I can only assume that he has the passion and desire to succeed at The Arsenal, and he will be itching to start making a name for himself in the first team set-up. It’s too early to say whether Chuba will become a world-beating superstar, but I firmly believe that in the next couple of years he will continue to improve, continuing to impress as he does so, thus climbing to greater footballing heights. He has the potential to be a top quality forward and I hope that soon he is given the opportunities to prove himself at the top level, but ultimately it’s up to him to continue working hard for now and knocking on Arsène Wenger’s proverbial door. So I leave you with a reminder: keep an eye out for the talent that is Chuba Akpom.
Thanks Billy. An extremely articulate and well presented post; you’ve certainly educated me about Chuba and I’m sure many more too. Thanks for reading guys and helping me support my fellow Gooner bloggers. Please do leave your comments and don’t forget to click that follow button!