Middlesbrough have exceeded all expectations so far this season.
After being dragged into a relegation battle last term the expectation was that this campaign could see a similar fight on the hands of the Teessiders.
The reality couldn’t be further from the truth.
Neil Warnock has completely transformed the side from the one led by Jonathan Woodgate last term.
A large part of that has been the club’s resolute defence with just six goals conceded in the league so far this season.
But some shrewd attacking reinforcements have also helped, with one of those being Chuba Akpom who arrived from PAOK.
So how has the former Arsenal youngster got on since arriving at the Riverside Stadium? We take a look in our FLW Spotlight special.#
Chuba Akpom’s time with Middlesbrough could hardly have got off to a better start.
The striker was drafted in from the start on his debut for the club as they travelled to take on Queens Park Rangers in a match which will live long in the memory of the London lad.
A goal early on in his first appearance will have done him the world of good, and that showed.
His home debut followed the next week as he retained his place in the starting XI to face Barnsley and Akpom once again showed exactly why Warnock was so keen to bring him in.
Since then things have gone a little bit quiet.
Akpom is without a goal in his last eight appearances and that will certainly be a concern for him.
While he does a decent job of holding up the ball and putting defenders under pressure, he’s been brought in to score goals and that’s why he might not be entirely happy with his start.
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In fairness to him, Middlesbrough haven’t exactly been the most ruthless side in front of goal this term – in fact they’re one of the lower scorers in the league but Akpom will know that he has to be more consistent.
Warnock has favoured a lone striker so far this season and with Ashley Fletcher facing a lengthy spell on the sidelines it’s pretty much been a head-t0-head with Britt Assombalonga for that starting spot.
The sheer amount of fixtures that are being thrown at the Teessiders right now means that Akpom won’t be short of opportunities to impress, but he’ll be wanting to establish himself as the first name on the team sheet.
Having started seven of his first 10 appearances for Middlesbrough you could argue that Akpom is Warnock’s first choice in attack, but that’s unlikely to continue if doesn’t brush up his goal tally.
Given Middlesbrough’s ability to grind out results this term it seems that the frontman may have got away with a slow start, but as the season unfolds there’s no doubt that supporters will be demanding more from him.