Chuba Akpom shows promise again but Arsenal must sign a striker

It is a rather surprising realisation, to say the very least, that no player has scored more goals in Arsenal's past four preseason campaigns than Chuba Akpom.

After netting in back-to-back matches against MLS All-Stars and Chivas in the past week, the striker has amassed nine goals in friendlies since 2013-14, the same number as Olivier Giroud and three more than Theo Walcott.

Despite these annual summer blooms, Akpom has never scored a competitive goal for Arsenal. Thanks to injuries and the club's continuing struggles in the transfer market, though, he may have the chance to address that record when Liverpool come to the Emirates on the opening weekend of the season.

With Giroud unlikely to be available following his late return from training following Euro 2016 and Walcott failing to impress, there is every chance the academy graduate will form the focal point of the attack. For one game, at least.

Walcott would expect to play given his extensive experience and senior status in the squad, but based on the tour to America, there is only one choice. While Walcott has struggled to give a convincing impression of a centre-forward -- a recurring problem in his Arsenal career -- Akpom has produced two neat, close-range finishes which are very much the hallmark of a penalty box predator.

He is not that player yet, though. In fact, Akpom's record in senior football is distinctly unimpressive with just seven goals in 61 games across his time with Arsenal and loan spells with Brentford, Coventry, Nottingham Forest and Hull City.

Akpom, who has been with Arsenal since the age of six, has long been rated as an emerging talent at the club and with his latest preseason exploits he is at the very least offering

Wenger a reminder of the potential that remains untapped. Now would be a good time to deliver on it.

"I'm just working as hard as I can," says the striker. "The boss knows what he is doing -- he's one of the best managers in the world. My job is work as hard as I can and be patient. I'll just keep waiting for that opportunity.

"This season is going to be really tough. You know the Premier League is always surprising, you won't know what happens. We're looking forward to training and we'll see how it goes."

It is not through want of trying that Arsenal are heading into the Liverpool game with such a paucity of options. Gonzalo Higuain was vastly overpriced at the £75.3 million Juventus paid to sign him from Napoli; Jamie Vardy turned Arsenal down to stay at Leicester; so too did Wissam Ben Yedder, as he joined Sevilla from Toulouse; while firm attempts to prise Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon have so far failed.

But continue to try Arsenal must. Akpom may be the best short-term solution, but he remains just that. Giroud could be back for the second match of the season away to Leicester in any case, and if a new player does arrive then Akpom is almost certain to leave on loan once again. Unless, that is, he can emulate his childhood friend Alex Iwobi, last season's breakthrough star, and grasp at the chance which is presented to him.

Loan moves away from the club have been largely fruitless affairs; a fifth may be a trip from which he does not return. A player like Harry Kane -- with four loans of his own at Leyton Orient, Millwall, Norwich and Leicester -- is living proof that it is possible to make it after being farmed out so often, but the majority fall by the wayside after falling out of the first-team picture.

This is what makes Akpom's opportunity against Liverpool, if indeed he does get one, so important and so rare.