Benik Afobe: Would He Have Been a Hit at Arsenal?
This weekend Arsenal would visit the Vitality Stadium to take on Bournemouth in their bid to resurrect their fading title challenge. With three points from a possible 12, Arsene Wenger’s side has been in terrible form and it’s even more scary bearing in mind that their fellow title rivals, Leicester, Man City and Tottenham are picking points.
The game would be a rather interesting one for new Bournemouth signing, Benik Afobe, that has settled into life at the big time with three strikes in three games. Speaking in a recent interview, Afobe has shown some sort of ‘regret’ in his time at Arsenal,
“Would I have scored goals for Arsenal given the chance? I believe I would have. But I don’t hold any grudges. I’m in the Premier League now and scoring — I’m happy.
“It would be nice to make it four out of four against Arsenal. I’ve got a lot to thank them for but there will be no friends on Sunday.”
Afobe joined the Gunners when he was six and proved his goalscoring process at youth level for the Gunners. Afobe was just 14 when he scored a whopping 40 goals for the Arsenal Under-16s in the 2007/08 season. When he moved up to the Under-18 squad, he continued his goalscoring exploits at that level, scoring 11 goals in 13 games in the 2008/09 season and 21 goals in 24 games in the 2009/10 season.
His progress was monitoring by Arsene Wenger and he made his first appearance for the Gunners, aged 18, in the 2011 Emirates Cup. It was a bitter sweet moment for the lad as he came on for Jack Wilshere early in the first half, only to suffer a groin injury in the second half of the same game. That turned out to be a serious injury for the lad as he missed up to six months. With Robin van Persie leaving the club in the 2012/13 season, Wenger fielded Afobe in a couple of preseason fixtures but he suffered a cruciate ligament injury that more or less called time on his Arsenal career.
After he made his recovery, the Gunners sent him out on loan to Milton Keynes Dons (the sixth club he was loaned to) and that’s when Afobe had a new lease of life. The forward scored 19 goals in 30 games for the Dons, including a brace against Manchester United when they ran out as shock 4-0 winners. While at MK Dons, Wolverhampton Wanderers offered the Gunners £2 million for his services and Arsenal cashed in on the lad. He continued his good form for Wolves, scoring 13 goals and with his 31 strikes that season, he was the highest goalscorer in England, beating the likes of Sergio Aguero and Harry Kane.
This season Afobe continued his good form with Wolves, scoring 10 goals for the Championship outfit but Bournemouth swooped for the lad with a club record, £10 million fee, and he has proved to be worth the outlay.
Would Afobe had been a hit if he was still at Arsenal? I believe so. He is pacey, powerful and had a good finishing ability. With the creativity at Arsenal’s disposal, having an agile forward like Afobe would have been a major plus because we could have played to his strengths. In Walcott, Arsenal has their own speed merchant in attack but the Englishman continues to divide opinion and he doesn’t really have that power to match his pace. Walcott remains the best finisher at the club (despite his poor run of form) but he’s one player you would hope to be in a one-on-one situation.
Afobe may have regrets about his time with the Gunners but that’s the harsh reality of the beautiful game. It’s going to be interesting to see if he would celebrate against the Gunners if he scores but I’m here hoping he doesn’t.
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