By Joe Brewin
Chuba Akpom is using his brain to overcome his opponents’ brawn after making a step up in class this summer.
The Arsenal forward is only 16 but has been given pre-season opportunities against Boreham Wood and Stevenage. Akpom was deployed as the main striker against the League One side on Saturday, facing perhaps the greatest physical test of his fledgling career.
But the teenager came through the challenge well enough to suggest he has a bright future in the game.
“Pre-season has been great so far,” Akpom told Arsenal.com. “It has been a bit of a surprise being so involved so early, although I played a few games with the Under-18s last year and trained with them too.
“I thought I would stay with them during pre-season but I have been involved with the reserves and it is a good experience. You are playing against bigger men who are faster, stronger and fitter. You just have to try and outsmart them.
“I think [reserves manager] Terry [Burton] believes in me. He just tells me to go out there, work hard and stick to the things I am good at. It's just about trying to be penetrative behind the back four, which is all about good movement.
“I just want to try and keep going the way I am now. I would love to get on the bench for the first team, maybe in the Capital One Cup. If not I am just going to try and maintain my place in the reserves.”
Akpom played 15 times for the Under-18s last season despite being a schoolboy and the youngster admits that keeping a close eye on his studies was not easy.
“It was kind of hard actually because I was full-time at London Colney and I had to balance everything,” he said. “My mind was just focused on football to be honest and I was late with homework and coursework - all I wanted to do was play football!
“I did Sports, English, Maths, Science, Business and Media Studies for my GCSEs. I haven't got my results yet but hopefully I'll have done OK.”
Whatever those results, Akpom has passed his pre-season tests with flying colours.Copyright 2016 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source