Akpom on target but Arsenal still want to buy new striker
Young Gunner scores winner for Arsenal as they beat MLS All-Stars to kick start US tour with victory
Arsenal 2 MLS All-Stars 1.
It was a tale of the young and the old at the Avaya Stadium in California as the Gunners got their USA tour off to a winning start. The old came in the shape of the 38-year-old Didier Drogba, for so long the nemesis of Arsenal during his time at Chelsea, whose goal on the stroke of half-time cancelled out Joel Campbell's earlier penalty.
But as the game in front of a sell-out 18,000 crowd in San Jose looked to be petering out to a 1-1 draw, Chuba Akpom got on the end of Nacho Monreal's cross to tap in the winning goal three minutes from time.
The 20-year-old Akpom, who spent last season on loan at Hull, also walked away with the Most Valuable Player award, and the Londoner later spoke of his delight at sharing the same pitch as some of his childhood idols. "I was playing against players that I played with on Fifa when I was younger," explained Akpom, referencing Drogba, David Villa and Andrea Pirlo, all of whom appeared for the All-Stars. "Those are players that you watch in World Cups and big tournaments and make you think: 'Wow, I want to get to that standard'."
Akpom made his senior debut for Arsenal in September 2013 but only eight more appearances have followed in the subsequent three years with Arsene Wenger preferring to loan out the youngster. Asked if he hoped he might get an opportunity for more game time with the Gunners this season, Akpom replied: "The boss knows what he's doing. He is one of the best managers in the world, or he is the best manager in the world... My job is just to work as hard as I can and wait for my opportunity. I'll be patient until I get it."
Wenger declared himself satisfied with the result, particularly given the strength of the opposition. "When I looked at the players on the team sheet I thought: 'That could be a very difficult game for us.' And it was," said the Arsenal manager.
Describing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's performance as "exceptionally strong", Wenger also singled out new signing Granit Xhaka for special praise, saying: "His passing was clean and technically he did well. Overall, I believe that his first game was encouraging... he reads the game and understands what's going on, anticipates well. That's a quality at such a young age that you will not find a lot."
And despite Akpom's goal-scoring display, Wenger indicated that he's likely to look to the transfer market to strengthen his strikeforce ahead of the new season. "I have, at the moment, not too many attacking options of experienced players,” he said. "We still look outside to find one more."