The season review concludes with an assessment of the club’s young wingers and strikers.
Starting with the strikers, Benik Afobe returns to Arsenal following the conclusion of his latest loan spell with a year remaining on his contract, but, with the likes of Yaya Sanogo and Chuba Akpom ahead of him, it seems highly unlikely that the 21 year old will be granted an extended stay. Despite now being over his injury problems, Afobe failed to establish himself on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, as was the case during his previous stints at Reading, Bolton Wanderers and Millwall. A permanent departure appears to be on the cards this Summer, which would mean that the striker would leave the club without having made a competitive appearance for the first-team.
Akpom, in contrast, has much more time on his side. The youngster has already made his Premier League and Capital One Cup debuts, as well as gaining experience during loan spells at League One sides Brentford and Coventry City. All the while, he has continued to find the net with regularity for Arsenal at youth level. Next season he will seek to add to his experience of the professional game, which could eventually see him head to a Championship side on loan.
Zak Ansah, another young striker who has suffered with injuries in recent seasons, could well depart. The Hale End product marked his return to action with a sweet strike for the U21s against West Ham United but has failed to find the net since. Although technically talented, Ansah is far from clinical in front of goal and is out of contract this summer.
Austin Lipman has continued to work hard and has developed well as a consequence of his loan spell at Boreham Wood. Whilst the likes of Akpom and Ansah were unavailable through loan spells and injuries, Lipman gained some experience of U21 football, and could become a regular at that level next season.
Alex Iwobi, meanwhile, has progressed extremely well this campaign, signing his first professional contract and also making the bench for the first-team in the Capital One Cup. Now ineligible for U18 football, the winger should establish himself as a regular for the second-string next season, although he may have to wait a while before he is considered for first-team action again.
Tarum Dawkins has struggled with injury throughout the campaign, but the winger has demonstrated glimpses of his quality, especially during his cameo appearance away to Charlton Athletic in the FA Youth Cup. Possessing great speed, he is a considerable threat to opposition defences but, as yet, is not guaranteed of a professional contract at the club.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles has, like Iwobi, impressed greatly this season at various levels. The dangerous winger stepped up to the U21 team with ease and was also particularly impressive in the Youth Cup run to the Semi-Finals. His progression caught the eye of Arsene Wenger, too, with Maitland-Niles being asked to train with the first-team earlier this year. Should he continue to develop as he has done, that may well become a regular occurrence in the not too distant future.