Alex Iwobi is on course to be another Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Unlike his teammates, Iwobi has come through the Arsenal academy and despite looking decent early on, he’s just another Arsenal midfielder (or attacker, who knows?) who will frustrate time and time again.
Unsurprisingly, Arsenal fans were excited about the Nigerian when he made his first-team debut in October 2015 as an 18-year-old. 18 months on, though, it’s hard to see what Iwobi’s best position is; left midfield? Number 10? Being young and versatile is a good for now, but Iwobi will need to find his best position if he’s to start week in, week out.
Other than being a youth product, what does he actually offer Arsenal? With three goals from 24 appearances in the Premier League this season, Iwobi isn’t a natural goalscorer, which is fine but he only has three assists as well.
Alexis Sánchez has created the most chances for Arsenal in the league (70), closely followed by Mesut Özil (67), with Oxlade-Chamberlain’s 27 the third highest. Iwobi has created 25 chances but with Sánchez looking likely to leave, Arsenal need more from the 20-year-old.
Arsenal fans are some of the most vocal on social media, of course with a helping hand from the infamous ArsenalFanTV. Over recent weeks Iwobi has drew criticism from his own fan base.
Bellerin and Iwobi in the last week mentioned top four likes its a trophy. That’s the mentality of the club now thanks to Wenger.
— Sam.sports (@Samsports094) April 6, 2017
For too long, Arsenal players have gotten away with mediocrity. Of course, Arsène Wenger has to take responsibility for this, and expecting his players to change is ludicrous. For too long, he’s been too loyal towards his players, which is both admirable and naive at the same time.
If Arsène Wenger does leave Arsenal at the end of the season, whoever replaces him will most likely completely shake up the squad. “Not enough leaders” has become one of Graeme Souness’ most repeated phrases over the years. Allegri, Simeone, Tuchel or whoever does come in, would not accept passengers, something Iwobi looks like the majority of the time.
This is not to say that the 20-year-old isn’t talented, because he is. Oxlade-Chamberlain and Walcott are too, but the following Squawka comparison chart shows how reliant Arsenal are on Alexis Sánchez.
Iwobi vs Oxlade-Chamberlain vs Walcott vs Sánchez https://t.co/xPjGuihcvR
— After the Ninety (@AfterTheNinety) April 10, 2017
Despite being in the first-team this season, Iwobi’s recent ineffective performances have seen him dropped to Arsenal’s Under-23 side, indicating that he is in fact not undroppable.
OFFICIAL: Carl Jenkinson, Rob Holding, Mathieu Debuchy, Yaya Sanogo & Alex Iwobi all start for Arsenal U23s vs. Reading. pic.twitter.com/j2B3QWFVK2
— Squawka News (@SquawkaNews) April 10, 2017
If Alex Iwobi wants to make a lasting impression, and ultimately have a successful career at Arsenal, he needs to add to his defensive work rate. Simple tasks like tracking runners are so effective to teams when defending.
In an attacking sense, the final product simply must improve. Time and time again we’ve seen players who’ve come through English academies, show real promise but end up never fulfilling their potential. Whether that is due to their actual abilities, pressure or other factors is debatable.
Theo Walcott, despite scoring just over 100 Arsenal goals, hasn’t lived up so his supposed potential, and Oxlade-Chamberlain’s career has stalled massively over the last couple of years. Arsenal and Wenger may be the problem, but there’s every chance Iwobi will fail to live up to the hype. For now, Iwobi doesn’t offer his club anything they don’t already have.
Ask yourself this, would Iwobi get into any other top 10 Premier League side?