Arsenal striker confident he will get first team opportunities
Striker believes he can break into the Gunners first XI this season
Benik Afobe has set his sights on breaking into the Arsenal first team this season.
Afobe was thrust into his first-team debut after just seven minutes of Arsenal’s 1-1 Emirates Cup draw with New York Red Bulls on Sunday, replacing the injured Jack Wilshere.
Despite the disappointing Gunners surrendering the Cup to the American outfit, 18-year-old Afobe put in a solid performance in attack, and the teenager, who was snapped up by the Arsenal academy when he was just six, promises there is more to come.
“The boss told me to warm up five minutes into the game and I was thinking ‘there’s no way he wants me to come on now,’ I wasn’t really prepared for it to be honest,” admitted Afobe.
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“But when I came on the nerves went and I tried to play how I do for the reserves.
“I think I played quite well; I played out wide which is not my favoured position, I normally play in the centre, but I’ll play anywhere for the boss and anywhere for Arsenal.
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“It’s always nice to make your debut for the team you’ve supported since you were six years old, so it’s a great day for me and my family and hopefully I’ll get more chances for the boss.
“I just wanted the pre-season games to finish, and then we’ll talk about what’s going to happen with me, but I’m delighted with how the pre-season has gone so far.
“My aim is always to play for Arsenal’s first team. I’m not thinking too far beyond that, and we’ll have to wait and see what the boss thinks is best for me.”
Afobe signed a professional contract at Arsenal in February 2010, and, as well as being voted the club’s Under-18 player of the season last year, he impressed on loan with Huddersfield Town, scoring eight goals and making 10 assists with the Terriers.
He impressed Arsene Wenger to the extent that the Gunners boss withdrew Afobe from the England Under-20 squad playing in Colombia, and gave him a taste of the first team in the recent friendly against Cologne.
Afobe provided a powerful, energetic display on the Arsenal wing, and admitted he is feeling right at home with the rest of the first team.
“I’ve played here for the last two years for the youth teams and I’ve scored a few goals here, but obviously in front of 60,000 it’s different, it’s more exciting,” he added.
“The more time I spend with them and the more I train with the team the more comfortable I feel, and I feel relaxed with all the lads.
“Obviously being a young group it’s much easier for me, and I speak French which is an advantage, so I can speak to quite a few of the lads in the team.”