Wenger wants more from Akpom
Published 15/07/2015 | 17:31
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has challenged Chuba Akpom to show he is ready for a regular place in the first team squad after the 19-year-old forward netted a hat-trick in the 4-0 win over a Singapore Select XI in the Barclays Asia Trophy.
Akpom made a handful of appearances for the Gunners last season, before ending the campaign on loan at Nottingham Forest.
The England youth international caught the eye during Wednesday's pre-season tour opener, putting Arsenal in front on 30 minutes.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere scored a penalty on the hour, before Akpom also netted from the spot on 76 minutes then quickly completed his treble with a powerful header.
"It is down to performance and attitude. He has that grade to make between being a big talent and after an efficient talent week in, week out. That's of course the target," Wenger said, quoted on the club's official website, www.arsenal.com.
"That's up to him (on his role for the new season). How much (will he play)? I don't know, but I just believe that it's an encouragement to do well and to work even harder.
"He is a young player and it can lift his confidence. The confidence in the dressing room that you sense from the other players is important as well and that can help him. Let's not forget it's a friendly. He's a good talent, but he has to work and show that in [the big] games."
"I sent him out on loan last year because I thought he needed that. This pre-season, during the season I plan to keep him with us."
Wilshere is another looking to get some much-needed game time following last season's injury problems, and was deployed in the number 10 role.
Wenger said: " He always had appetite Jack, but he was out for a long time. Already in the last two or three games of the season he has found his burst back with acceleration.
"He was injured last year early in the season and he missed five months. What you want at the top level today demands so much physically that to be [out] is a nightmare for the players. That's what he needs - continuity. After, we play so many games.
"We have a big squad, but not a massive one and I think the opportunities will be there for everybody."
Wenger had rested 10 of his 27-man squad, including summer signing Petr Cech, while captain Mikel Arteta also watched on from the stands.
The Arsenal manager was happy enough with the performance.
"Overall it was a positive game because we had a good resistance in the first game. We were tested against a very resilient, very dynamic, very mobile team, with a good collective attitude," Wenger said.
"I liked the fact that we kept a good team focus and as well that individually, every player had to dig deep. We suffered a little bit to get a good workout."
Arsenal will face Everton in the final on Saturday after the Toffees defeated Stoke 5-4 on penalties earlier in the day after their game had ended goalless.
Wenger said: "I will rotate a bit because the week after we play two games again.
"For me at the moment the [objective is] to give competition to the players without overloading them and [for them] to be capable to work hard in training and to work on their fitness. If they play too many games, you cannot work in training."