Last week was certainly significant for Arthur Okonkwo’s career, with the highly-rated young goalkeeper achieving some notable feats.
Firstly, Okonkwo was part of the squad that travelled to Dubai for a warm-weather training camp, and, although he wasn’t involved in the game against Al-Nasr, it was still a hugely beneficial experience for the 17-year-old to test himself in training against players such as Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil.
Shortly after returning to England an injury to Deyan Iliev meant that Okonkwo was thrown into action for his Arsenal U23s debut in a re-arranged fixture at home to West Ham United.
Okonkwo has been named amongst the substitutes for the second-string on numerous occasions this season, but this was his first involvement on the pitch and he didn’t disappoint, with the youngster keeping a clean sheet and making one save that was especially impressive.
In addition, the Hale End product impressed with his distribution and demonstrated that he isn’t afraid to take risks by bringing the ball out from the back.
With Iliev ahead of him and other goalkeepers, such as Tom Smith, also impressing, Okonkwo may have to bide his time for further opportunities but it seems likely that he will eventually establish himself as Arsenal’s first-choice goalkeeper at U23 level.
There are certainly improvements to be made for Okonkwo, who has made some errors at U18 level, but he is definitely heading in the right direction as far as his overall development is concerned.
Although making the breakthrough into the first-team squad at Arsenal, if it is to happen at all, will be a lengthy process for Okonkwo, he certainly possesses the talent to eventually achieve that objective.