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Chuba Akpom Goes on Loan to Hull

 Arsenal forward Chuba Akpom celebrates with his team-mate Alex Iwobi after giving his side the lead against a Singapore Select XI

Another day, another barrel of oil, another dollar.

The day has started pretty well on the facility with a series of meetings that began at 5.50am and I’m finally free to at least publish a quick post before I carry my process engineering activities lined up for today. We Nigerians always want the best for ourselves and our brothers out there, and when you come to terms with the fact that there are young Nigerians aspiring to do well in the club you support with your heart, you know that it’s something worth commending.

Chuba Amaechi Akpom is a Nigerian-born Brit that joined this club at the age of six. He began his football education at Arsenal and grew in the ranks before making his debut for the Under-18s at just 15 years of age. Shortly after his seventeenth birthday, he received his first ever call-up to the Arsenal squad in a dead rubber game against Olympiakos but he didn’t feature in that match. Akpom came under the spotlight in the 2012/13 season, when he, aged just 17-years-plus, scored 13 goals in 20 games for the Under-21s.

At the start of the 2013/14 campaign, Arsene Wenger featured him in the Asia Tour and he did magnificently well to score four goals in three games against Indonesia Dream Team, Vietnam and Urawa Red Diamonds. It was only a matter of time before he made his Arsenal first team debut and he got it in that same season.

Akpom has tried a few loan spells in the past two seasons featuring for the likes of Brentford, Coventry and Nottingham but he’s yet to score his first professional goal. Akpom began this season with a big bang, scoring a hat-trick in the Barclays Asia Trophy semifinal against Singapore. Since then, Wenger has featured Akpom in the other preseason games but he adopted a rather selfish approach in the coming games, showing that he’s still very raw, despite Wenger’s initial statements that he was going to be part of the squad this season.

The Gunners have confirmed in the official site that Akpom will be joining Hull City on loan for the entire 2015/16 season. The club’s Twitter handle confirmed the news as well.

Looking at the current outlook of things, a loan move to a competitive team is what Akpom needs at this stage of his career. At Arsenal, he’s clearly behind the likes of Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck in the pecking order for the center forward position, but he has to prove to Wenger and the Arsenal hierarchy that he has what it takes to make the grade in an ambitious club like Arsenal.

I don’t even expect Akpom to work straight into the Hull team but they’re a side that are trying to revamp themselves and challenge for promotion to the Premier League. Following their relegation from the Premier League last season, Steve Bruce still kept his job after suffering the ignominy of going down a division and he purged the club off some players like Steve Harper, Paul McShane, Liam Rosenior, Maynor Figueroa, Yannick Sagbo and some youngsters, while ‘bigger’ clubs poached Tom Ince, Robbie Brady and James Chester.

In the first team, Akpom will have to contend with Nikica Jelavic, record-signing, Abel Hernandez, Sone Aluko and last season’s surprise package, Dame N’Doye. Bruce will have to be the one to manage his forwards effectively and we can only hope that Akpom gets some good game time that would be beneficial to his career development.

I wish the lad the very best at Hull and I hope he makes a telling contribution in their surge for Premier League promotion this season.


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Akpom on Fire as Arsenal Thrashes Singapore Select

 Arsenal forward Chuba Akpom celebrates with his team-mate Alex Iwobi after giving his side the lead against a Singapore Select XI

Singapore Select XI 0 – Arsenal 4 (Akpom 30′, 76′ pen., 79′, Wilshere 60′ pen.)

Singapore National Stadium (Barclay’s Asia Trophy)

Match HighlightsWenger’s Press Conference

After watching that boring fest between Everton and Stoke that ended with penalties (there were some good penalties though), I braced myself to see the lads donning the new away kit and boy, I’m in love with that kit. Per Mertesacker led the team out and it was interesting to see the likes of Chuba Akpom and Alex Iwobi. Iwobi’s performance was of particular interest to his uncle, Nigerian football legend, Jay Jay Okocha, that took to Twitter to express his delight in watching his nephew play.

Arsenal almost drew first blood when Nacho Monreal drifted forward and it was intercepted by some Singaporean bloke. With speculation linking Monreal out of the club, one must wonder if the club would fold its arms and watch such a prized asset leave. When he arrived at the club, it took him a while to settle but Monreal is miles ahead of Kieran Gibbs at the moment. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was another player that was keen to impress and he wasted no time in blasting an effort that went wide.

Akpom connected well with Iwobi on the left hand side with the young Nigerian firing a shot that was saved by the goalie. The onslaught on Singapore’s goal continued as Ox blasted a shot that was parried straight to Jack Wilshere’s path. The Englishman fired the rebound but a last-ditch block spared the goalie’s blushes. It was only a matter of time before Arsenal opened their goalscoring account for the season and it came from a very swift counter attack. Iwobi drilled a ball to Akpom’s path but the forward was aware of Wilshere’s presence and he executed a dummy. When Wilshere tried to bring the ball under control, it fell to the path of Akpom that blasted the ball in to make it 1-0.

Chuba Akpom

Akpom opening the scoring

Singapore managed to make a rear foray forward and Bai was the first to react to a corner but he headed his attempt wide. Gabriel Paulista blocked a shot to the mid-rift and hit the deck like a sack of potatoes. Emiliano Martinez took the job of a physio to stretch the Brazilian defender till he got back on his feet. That sent the stadium into raptures as the fans lauded the physiotherapy provided by Colin Lewin Martinez.

That turned out to be Martinez last act because he was replaced at halftime by Wojciech Szczesny. Iwobi received an inch-perfect pass from the Ox but his first-timed volley was wide off the mark. Wilshere and Ox combined to provide a sumptuous ball for Iwobi on the edge of the area but he skied his effort much to his disappointment. Ox was next to get an attempt on goal as his effort slowly crept beyond the goalie and towards the goal line but a defender blasted the ball away to safety.

Arsenal doubled their money when Matt Debuchy tripped himself and some how won a penalty from Jon Moss. Even if the Singaporeans would have felt hard done by, Wilshere didn’t care as he sent the keeper the wrong way from 12-yards out.

Jack Wilshere gave Arsenal a 2-0 lead when he converted from the spot after Mathieu Debuchy appeared to trip himself up in the area

Wilshere coolly slotting the ball past the goalie to make it two

Faris did well to fashion a chance for himself but his shot couldn’t beat Szczesny at his near post. Shortly afterwards, there was a flurry of substitutions for Arsenal as Willock, Gedion Zelalem, Dan Crowley, Jon Toral and Hector Bellerin (unveiling his new number 24) joined the fold.

Toral played a role in the third goal of the night as he was upended by the goalie leaving Moss no choice but to point to the spot again. Watching the replays showed that Toral actually dived but Akpom repeated Wilshere’s feat by sending the keeper the wrong way yet again to make it 3 – 0. Akpom ensured that he walked away with the match ball when he latched unto Bellerin’s cross to make it 4 – 0. The buildup to the goal was excellent with the fullback showing some fancy footwork before having the composure to pick his spot and execute a deft cross that guided its way straight to Akpom’s head.

Akpom celebrates his hat-trick with Bellerin

Wenger ran out of superlatives for Akpom in his post-match conference and he stated that the forward has that killer instinct in front of goal. Akpom is one striker I have very high hopes for and my expectations for the young lad is to secure a loan spell to a team, preferably in the Championship, where he can excel like his former colleague, Benik Afobe.

It was a great run-out for the lads and I’d be looking forward to the final against Everton.


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Arsenal Fans Elated as Akpom Signs New Deal

If you play Football Manager fervently like I and some other folks in the world do, you’d know that there are some certain ways to keep a squad ‘happy’. It’s not that I’m saying I wanna be the next Arsene Wenger (I love my Oil and Gas job, thank you) but if the results are good on the virtual FM pitch, the morale of all your players would be ‘superb’. Translating that to reality, Arsenal has won five consecutive games, yes, five games and the mood around the Emirates is more confident than how it was following that 3-3 draw with Anderlecht. I’m sure you get my drift.

Another thing in FM that can make the players and fans ‘happy’ is when the manager hands contracts to some players in the team. Depending on the player, he may delighted, pleased or even relieved to sign the contract but the bottomline remains that he’d be in the club for the long-term and the chances of him being in a protracted transfer saga are slim to none. Switching back to reality, Arsenal’s Chuba Akpom has ended speculation linking him to Dortmund, Liverpool, FC Twente and Feyernoord by signing a four-and-a-half year contract with Arsenal (isn’t that how it’s stated in FM? Damn, I’m an addict).

BBC Sport in their infinite wisdom report that Arsene Wenger had it in mind to give Akpom a chance, so he accelerated the departures of Lukas Podolski, Yaya Sanogo and Joel Campbell. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that Podolski was whining about not getting enough playing time, or that Sanogo looked so ‘raw’ in his performances that everyone believed that a loan move would be beneficial to him and that Campbell was clearly not part of Wenger’s plans for this season at least. Yeah, it was definitely about giving Akpom a chance.

It’s always good seeing a youngster make it from the youth team to get a shot at first team action. There’s always that feeling of satisfaction the fans get when they see a home-grown player do so well when he’s thrust into the ball game called competitive football. Jack Wilshere may be in the news for more things than one but I don’t think there was any Arsenal fan out there that wasn’t proud of his performances in the 2010/11 season that rightly earned him the PFA Young Player of the Year award. Other players like Kieran Gibbs and Wojciech Szczesny rose from the youth setup to become prominent members of the first team.

The tale of Francis Coquelin is another example of how hardwork, determination and sheer luck can open doors for you, but you have to take it with both arms. This was a lad that was farmed out to Charlton and would have probably been released after his loan spell there but injuries to Arteta and Mathieu Flamini’s concerning form paved the way for the Frenchman.

With those three forwards out on loan and Danny Welbeck out injured, Akpom would still get some minutes as the season progress but it would be beneficial to his football development if he’s farmed out on loan next season.

His potential is there for everyone to see but sometimes you need to walk before you jump.

I’m glad Akpom has signed a new contract and I’m sure Arsenal fans are too