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Akpom wants to fight for a place in Arsenal side after Emirates Cup triumph

PUBLISHED: 13:06 28 July 2015 | UPDATED: 13:06 28 July 2015

Arsenal's Chuba Akpom (right) and Lyon's Mehdi Zeffane battle for the ball during the Emirates Cup

Arsenal's Chuba Akpom (right) and Lyon's Mehdi Zeffane battle for the ball during the Emirates Cup

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Teenage striker Chuba Akpom wants to battle for a place in the Arsenal side this season rather than go out again on loan.

The 19-year-old forward, who featured as a substitute in the Gunners’ Emirates Cup victories against Lyon and Wolfsburg, spent the final two months of last season on loan to Nottingham Forest.

Although Akpom may be in line for another temporary spell away from Emirates Stadium when the new campaign gets under way, he would prefer to compete with the likes of Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott instead.

“I would rather stay here and fight for a place and give it my all and compete with the other strikers,” said the England Under-20 international.

“There is a lot of talent, but I think I am capable of competing and getting a place in the team – it’s all down to hard work.

“The boss really likes playing young players when he can and that motivates the young players because it shows them that they have a chance.

“This season I think everyone will say there is good team spirit since we went on tour and I think we have a chance of a major trophy.

“There are a lot of young players coming through and hopefully we can keep this team strong for many years to come.”

Akpom, who has also had previous spells on loan at Brentford and Coventry, was one of several younger players involved last weekend as the hosts triumphed to lift the Emirates Cup for the first time since 2010.

Six different players got their names on the scoresheet for Arsene Wenger’s side in Saturday’s 6-0 rout of Lyon – the biggest margin of victory in the history of the tournament.

The Gunners’ second – and decisive – win on Sunday was a little more low-key, with another teenager, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, setting up Walcott to score the only goal early in the second half against Wolfsburg.

“It’s really good preparation – the experience for me and the other young players to get minutes and show people what we can do,” added Akpom.

“We are all excited about the [Chelsea] game at the weekend now. The boss says he will always give opportunities to young players who are doing their job.

“The main thing for me is for a manager to have confidence and faith in me – so for the manager to say that he isn’t after another striker is good. But the hard work doesn’t stop there.”

Meanwhile, Wenger has confirmed that he has no plans to arrange a loan deal for Reine-

Adelaide, an attacking midfielder who recently joined the Gunners from Lens, in the near future.

“He is 17 years old,” said the Arsenal boss. “He looks very promising but he needs to work with us now for a year with the first team, to play with the Under-21s and develop.

“There is fantastic potential there and he will stay with us. This was a good opportunity to watch him.

“In some situations he has the game of a 17-year-old player but he looks very advanced physically for his age. I’m sure he has learned a lot from these games.”

The Frenchman also confirmed that he expects Walcott to finalise a new deal to stay at Arsenal in the near future.

And Wenger reiterated that he believes the England international’s versatility will continue to make him an extremely valuable asset to the Gunners attack.

“If you ask him where he loves to play, even he will say that it depends a little bit on the period,” added Wenger.

“Sometimes he prefers left. When I’ve played him on the left he likes it as well because if he makes a good run he can score goals as well.

“He’s not an aggressive striker, he’s a mobile striker. He turns up in the right spaces in the box and you cannot give that to a player.

“He anticipates well, and when that is linked with his speed and execution it always makes him very dangerous.”

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