Mikel Arteta was ‘very impressed’ by the performance of Tim Akinola as Arsenal battered Premier League rivals Brentford 4-0 in a behind-closed-doors friendly on Thursday, as reported by All Nigeria Soccer.
The irony was lost on absolutely nobody.
Three weeks after Arsenal began the new season with a bruising 2-0 defeat at the hands of a newly-promoted Bees outfit, the Gunners turned on the style and produced their finest performance in months.
The only problem is, it counted for absolutely nothing, suggestions that Arsenal prevailed 4-2 on aggregate purely tongue-in-cheek – unless, of course, ‘Football Twitter’ has plumbed new depths in North London.
Nonetheless, there were still a few positives to warm Arteta’s cockles, a morale-boosting victory very much welcome after Arsenal made their worst start to a league season since the days when Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and Doris Day were dominating the charts.
Could Tim Akinola soon make his Premier League debut?
The returning Gabriel Magalhaes played 69 minutes and found the net too, while the wantaway Ainsley Maitland-Niles impressed in a box-to-box midfield role.
There were even two goals for Cedric Soares, a most unlikely of braces from a defender who looked revitalised at left-wing back as Arteta trialled a five-man defence.
According to All Nigeria Soccer, 20-year-old academy graduate Akinola was handed his ‘non-competitive debut’ against Brentford too. And it seems he seized the opportunity in some style, making a real impression as Arteta watched on from the sidelines.
With Granit Xhaka now suspended and Thomas Partey’s injury issues showing no signs of abating, Akinola appears to have done his hopes of a first-team role at the Emirates no harm at all.
But, given that he is yet to extend a contract which runs out next summer, Akinola’s long-term future remains uncertain.
According to All Nigeria Soccer, a who’s who of European giants are watching the highly-rated, box-to-box ball-player very closely indeed, with Real Madrid, Atlético de Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus and Monaco all sniffing around.