It’s fair to say Alex Iwobi didn’t have a good personal season in Wengers farewell year. He had 3 goals in 30 appearances and seemingly repeated mistakes week in week out.
Alex Iwobi became a scapegoat for Arsenals poor performances with many fans urging for the Nigerian international to be offloaded in the summer. However, with the arrival of new Head Coach Unai Emery it seems a change in fortune may have arrived for Alex.
Having appeared in 8 games (2 off the bench) this season so far, Iwobi has already scored and assisted. It’s not just that though, it’s his individual performances that excites the fans. A new confidence seems to have filled Alex and every game he has played in sees him running at defenders with tremendous pace and skill. Indeed, he now rarely loses the ball. He often gains ground up the pitch for Arsenal to relieve the defence or even find a ball that triggers a sweeping Arsenal counter attack.
The willingness to run at will is something we have seen before with Iwobi. In the last few seasons, however, it was only seen in glimpse. This season, he is showing off, with a plethora of fantastic nutmegs that have consequently circulated on social media and become almost a ‘calling card’ for Iwobi.
Another weak point that was constantly highlighted by Arsenal fans as a fatal negative for Iwobi was his lack of end product. Often Alex would get into good positions, with the goal seemingly at his mercy, and somehow only manage to shoot wide of the mark. Or, he would try to find his teammates, but waste the move with a lacklustre ball.
However, this is something that has also dramatically improved and fans these days will rarely see Alex misplace a pass. Additionally, when given the chance to shoot at goal against Chelsea, he made no mistake and smashed it into the roof of the net.
Leicester game proves Iwobi’s worth
Perhaps Alex’s most noteworthy performance to date was his terrific display against Leicester. It truly capped off his turnaround and earned him the man of the match award. Alex was all over the pitch all game, terrorising the Leicester defenders and spreading balls over the pitch for his teammates. There was a standout moment in this game, that really captured Alex’s massive confidence at the moment. Although it didn’t result in a goal, it was one that got the fans on their feet roaring.
A ball was chipped over to the wing just outside the Arsenal penalty box. Iwobi used his strength to shrug off the Leicester player, and took the ball down over his shoulder with deft control that would usually be associated with someone of Mesut Özil’s calibre. He then runs forward 25 yards into the opposition half surrounded by two Leicester players before turning back. He takes Ndidi out of the game with a cheeky nutmeg before laying the ball off to Xhaka to continue the Arsenal attack. The moment capped off a brilliant display by Alex Iwobi.
Is this Iwobi’s breakout season?
This turn in form has for sure left a lot of fans wondering what’s changed? And the short answer is there is really no way of telling. Maybe Alex Iwobi has been putting the work in after hours to get to his peak. Or, maybe it’s Unai Emery’s new breath of tactics and philosophies into the club have filled Alex with confidence and suit his style of play.
I, for one, don’t care how Iwobi got playing how he is now, all that matters is he keeps playing how he is playing and, bearing in mind his age of just 22, Arsenal fans all over the world will be excited for what he brings to the team and Arsenal in the coming years.