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All Guns Blazing: The three academy prospects who could become Arsenal’s elite striker

12:39 01 October 2014

MK Dons

MK Dons' Benik Afobe holds off a challenge from Bradford City's Billy Knott

EMPICS Sport

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Jeorge Bird looks at the three young strikers who could finally break through the club’s academy.

The Arsenal Academy has struggled to produce an elite striker since its reformation in 1998, but that could be set to change with three of the club’s forwards making an impact at various levels of the game.

Benik Afobe has been tipped for a bright future ever since he scored 40 goals in one season for the club at U16 level. Since then he has endured some difficult times, with injuries taking their toll and a succession of loan spells not working out as he had anticipated.

Now, however, Afobe is demonstrating the best form of his senior career to date. He’s scored nine goals already for MK Dons, most notably hitting a brace against Manchester United in the League Cup. His chances of making a breakthrough at Arsenal remain slim, but if he can continue his impressive performances in League One, then he may be given a chance at a higher level in the near future.

Afobe’s Arsenal future looked considerably bleak just a few months ago, but he signed an extension to his contract prior to heading out on loan, suggesting that all hope is not quite lost yet.

Another player about whom there has been much hype is Chuba Akpom. The striker, who provides a devastating combination of pace, trickery and power, has three substitute appearances to his name for the Arsenal first-team and he will be seeking further opportunities in the near future.

Akpom spent time on loan at Brentford and Coventry City last season and has started the new campaign brilliantly for Arsenal’s U21 team, scoring six goals in four games. Another loan spell could soon beckon for the 18 year old, especially following Arsenal’s exit from the Capital One Cup.

Stephy Mavididi may not be quite as well known as Afobe and Akpom, but he could soon become a rather familiar name. The Hale End product made his debut for Arsenal U18s as a schoolboy and has certainly put that experience to good use, scoring an astonishing nine times in five starts at that level in the opening weeks of the season.

Producing strikers has proven to be very difficult for Arsenal down the years, and Afobe, Akpom and Mavididi still have some way to go in their various careers before they can be described as bucking the trend, but there are at least suggestions that a steady production line of talents is beginning to emerge.

Follow Jeorge @jeorgebird

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