Alex Iwobi: Arsenal’s Underappreciated Naija Boy

Alex Iwobi
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 25: Alex Iwobi of Arsenal drives the ball during the FA Cup Fourth Round match between Arsenal and Manchester United at Emirates Stadium on January 25, 2019 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Price/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Alex Iwobi is an Arsenal legend in the making. There, I said it. But I truly believe the youngster has all the necessary traits to become a future legend at the Emirates Stadium.

Admittedly, Iwobi may lack consistency and sometimes a final ball from time to time, but still at 22-years-old Iwobi has a lot of time on his side to iron out these weaknesses. Even still, in the bigger picture, when you look at his overall game, the young Nigerian international has bags of talent, having already shown signs of skills that make him one of the best young players in the Premier League.

Alex Iwobi: Arsenal’s Underappreciated Naija Boy

What are These Skills?

Off the Pitch

First off, and probably most important, Alex Iwobi’s maturity and professionalism are second to none. Not just on the pitch but off the pitch too.

Never have I seen a bad word said about the boy. He conducts himself like a true professional, in an age of social media where players such as Paul Pogba, Benjamin Mendy, Mesut Özil and Raheem Sterling have been criticized profusely for their use of Twitter and Instagram (whether these criticisms hold any weight is another debate in itself) there has never been any storm about Alex Iwobi’s use of social media.

In an age where middle-aged pundits like to blow blood vessels over young players having any sort of social life outside of football, Iwobi uses social media in a clever way, only posting about his family or his dad wearing his Arsenal shirt (shoutout Chuba Iwobi). With this, even though they may want to, the Alan Brazil’s of the world can’t blow blood vessels. With this, it also portrays Iwobi as the family orientated man and childhood Arsenal fan that he is.

On the Pitch

Stepping on to the pitch, Iwobi proves time and time again (admittedly in glimpses) what a special talent he can be. His most recent example of this was against Cardiff at home. In this match he seemed to singlehandedly change the tempo of a seemingly flat match that lacked any atmosphere, getting the Arsenal fans on to their feet with his surges of energy leading the attack. On this occasion, he almost got himself a goal but for a good save in the process.

Alex Iwobi, when he plays like he has been doing recently, is honestly, in my opinion, one of the most elegant players, never mind young players, in the league; combining pace with energy, vision and technique, skipping past defenders like a gazelle.

On his day, Iwobi shows the agility and balance of an acrobat and the skills of his uncle Okocha, sending defenders in early retirements (just ask Kieran Tripper, the man has not been the same since that nutmeg).

However…

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen Alex Iwobi’s full potential yet. This being as the Nigeria international is still young as still has some deficiencies in his all-round game. One of these is that at his young age, Iwobi lacks consistency, sometimes looking uncertain, especially around the edge of the box, sometimes seeming to break into Riverdance instead of dribbling round a player (if you’ve watched Iwobi out of form you’ll know what I mean).

Adding to this, if he is to become a more complete winger, Iwobi needs to work on his abilities in finishing, having only scored ten goals in 86 appearances. In this time Iwobi has only had six shots on target thus far in the season, scoring just once. Although the ten goals may not be dreadful for a winger of Iwobi’s age it is certainly an area for him to work on.

Comparing Iwobi

Compared to another winger of similar age and style of play, with similar playtime, Demarai Gray, Alex Iwobi trumps the young English winger in chances created, forward passes, crosses completed and assists. This just shows what a bright talent Iwobi is.

On a Positive Note

Furthermore, compared to Chelsea’s Pedro, stats show Alex Iwobi averages more key passes per game, 0.9 to 0.8. Adding to this, the young Gunner has more assists too, Iwobi’s 3 to Pedro’s 1. The young Nigerian international also has more assists than Liverpool regular Xherdan Shaqiri (3 to 2).

These stats just show how talented Arsenal’s Naija boy really is. Having not hit his peak yet, you can’t help but be excited to see how far Alex Iwobi can go. Who knows what a player he will be in five years.

Main Photo

 

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