UPDATE: Akpom has joined League One side Coventry City on loan until the end of the season, meaning he will be unavailable for the majority of Arsenal’s youth team fixtures in the coming months. It is possible that he could still feature in the FA Youth Cup against Charlton Athletic, but his temporary departure means that Austin Lipman, himself only just back from a loan spell with Boreham Wood, is now Arsenal’s only recognised striker at U21 level.
Chuba Akpom returned from his month-long loan spell with Brentford this week, with the 18 year old set to provide Arsenal’s various youth sides with a much-needed attacking option at a crucial point of the campaign.
Akpom featured four times for the League One side but failed to establish himself as a regular during his time at Griffin Park. The England U19 international, who has featured twice for the Arsenal first-team this season, could make his comeback for his parent club when the U21s travel to face Reading at the Madejski Stadium on Monday night in their latest league fixture.
With Arsenal languishing in 13th place in the table and some 14 points adrift of league leaders Fulham, albeit with two games in hand, the chances of Steve Gatting’s team being crowned Champions at the end of the season appear rather remote.
They do, however, have an increasingly realistic chance of success in the inaugural U21 Premier League Cup, a competition in which Akpom is poised to play a key part. After defeating Chelsea in extra-time in the Quarter-Finals, the Gunners will host either Wolverhampton Wanderers or Reading at home in the last four of the competition.
The games are coming thick and fast for the club at all levels, with the U19 side preparing to take on Shakhtar Donetsk in the Last 16 of the UEFA Youth League a week on Tuesday. Akpom has been Arsenal’s first-choice striker in the competition so far, scoring three goals in four starts in the group stages, and is expected to be entrusted with a starting berth again despite the fact that fellow forward Austin Lipman is temporarily back from his loan spell at Boreham Wood.
Akpom could also feature in the FA Youth Cup tie against Charlton in a week’s time, with Arsenal having learnt that their reward for a victory in that game would be a home tie, most likely played at Emirates Stadium, against either Sheffield United or Everton.
The U18s also have two much-anticipated league games on the horizon, with tomorrow’s trip to face Chelsea followed by a home game against Tottenham Hotspur, although the latter fixture may yet be rearranged due to Arsenal’s FA Youth Cup commitments.