Benik Afobe seemed destined to make his first-team breakthrough when he appeared in the Emirates Cup against New York Red Bulls in July, only to sustain a serious groin injury late in the game.
It kept him out of action for six months and stalled his progress, but a goal in his comeback match, a 5-0 win for the Reserves at Norwich in February, showed he had lost none of his predatory instincts.
Benik moved on loan to Reading in March, a step Arsène Wenger said was vital for his development. “I feel that two or three months in the Championship now will help him to get a step up and hopefully he will do very well there because he has the potential to do it.”
The teenage forward helped Brian McDermott’s side win the Championship title, but he will have his sights firmly set on the Arsenal first team next season.
"One moment in my third day of training gave me a big boost. We were training inside and had a mini-tournament. My team had kept for ball for nine or 10 passes before Jernade Meade crossed it in - I got on the end of it and finished well with my left foot. It was my first goal in a game situation since returning and I was quietly thinking “Yes, he’s back!” - although obviously I didn’t celebrate outwardly in case I got a bit of stick!”
In his comeback game at Norwich, Benik played a neat one-two with Yossi Benayoun and tucked a confident finish into the bottom corner. It was the sign of a predatory marksman, and showed that the teenager remained just as dangerous in front of goal as ever.
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