Alex Iwobi: Arsenal’s Silver Lining
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on April 27, 2016
Every cloud has its silver lining and Alex Iwobi has undoubtedly been Arsenal’s through their drab end to the season.
The Nigerian international has burst onto the scene magnificently in the past few months and has been one form of happiness for Gunners supporters in these turbulent times for the club. With the club crumbling around him; the youngster’s intelligence has belied his years and showed some of his fellow attackers how to play with composure in the final third.
The nephew of Jay-Jay Okocha announced himself in the annual Emirates Cup tournament in pre-season scoring and lighting up the game in a 6-0 mauling of Olympique Lyon. He has followed in the footsteps of Jack Wilshere and Hector Bellerin who also first impressed the Arsenal faithful in the tournament before bursting onto the first team scene.
One of the biggest shows of Wenger’s faith in his latest teenage sensation was starting him in the first leg of the Champions League home tie with Barcelona in mid March. The youngster lasted 72 minutes and showed some smart touches but didn’t stand out too much during the 3-1 defeat.
Since then he has stood head and shoulders above his peers starting in each of his six starts since clocking up two goals and two assists. Goals against Everton and Watford in wins have helped endear him to the fans.
Most importantly for Arsenal; Wenger has played him in his preferred role on the left flank and swapping Alexis Sanchez to the right. This tactical change gives Arsenal much more balance in the final third as Sanchez doesn’t feel the need to constantly cut inside and can exploit his pace going in behind on the right. Another playmaker-type player alongside Mesut Ozil has helped take the creative burden off the German star.
In the time since his breakthrough Iwobi has chosen to represent the country of his birth in Nigeria rather than England; making his debut in their 1-1 draw with Egypt. The winger has joined Kelechi Iheanacho as a debutant this season and is amongst the national team’s brightest prospects with the Manchester City forward.
Having Iwobi in the side is far removed from having Joel Campbell and Theo Walcott on the wings not too long ago. His impact on the team has been as undoubted as his potential. The Arsenal fanbase have been distracted from just how poor Arsenal have been in the last weeks and speaking on a personal level: it’s been a real relief!