What do Tottenham, Manchester United, and Liverpool all have in common? They have all given youth a chance in attack this season.
Harry Kane, James Wilson, and Raheem Sterling have all flourished when given their chance. Kane has, at times, single-handedly dragged Tottenham to victory, and Wilson has even been preferred to Radamel Falcao at times this campaign.
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Every time I look at the Arsenal team sheet, I look at the substitutes first to see what we might be lacking. Against Monaco, the glaring omission was that of a striker.
Theo Walcott might have been on the bench, but he is more effective attacking from the wings. The only other attacking options were Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Tomas Rosicky, who are meant to control play rather than get on the end of passes.
Since Wenger loaned out all his strikers – Lukas Podolski, Joel Campbell, and Yaya Sanogo all leaving the club this past January – the only other option left to him was Chuba Akpom, but he wasn’t even on the bench. Not only is Akpom rated highly at Arsenal, but Wenger recently tied him down to a new four-and-a-half-year contract to keep him away from a host of other clubs, Liverpool included.
He is a proper number nine with genuine pace, and he is also physically strong. With Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud really misfiring against Monaco, Akpom would have given us a different option coming on for the Frenchman. Walcott came on for Giroud instead, and immediately began to cause problems for the Monaco defence. An ineffectual Welbeck remained on the pitch however, as there was no one to replace him.
It feels weird writing this article, because if there is one coach who gives youngsters a chance to shine it is Arsene Wenger. The manager needs to start utilising Akpom more regularly however, as once he builds his confidence up he could prove to be an excellent asset for the club. We can’t rely on Giroud all the time.