Arsenal’s steady start to the season now looks very much spot on, after being put on the spot right from the first game of the season, an inexplicable opening day 3-4 big scalp suffered to the visiting Klopp Kop, that once again negatively framed the club’s image in the spotlight.
Matters were made even worse in that disappointing curtain raiser, with the double injuries sustained by Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi, ultimately reducing the firepower of the side so early into the campaign. With the hamstring injury to Ramsey still keeping him out of the side after six weeks, it is refreshing to see Alex Iwobi back to fitness and form, basically picking up where he left off, having secured Arsenal’s first assist of the season in that Liverpool encounter.
Arsenal’s new no. 17 forced his way back into the first team shortly after regaining match fitness and has since built on his substitute appearance in the 2-1 home win over Southampton and now looks very much like that exciting youngster from last season who can do no wrong to warrant a drop out in his first full year, sparking memories of Jack Wilshere’ dream debut 2010/2011 season.
Early signs seem to indicate that his presence and intelligence in attacking areas is well utilised, alongside a well structured close control first touch, which is required in a demanding league and a club which places much significance in high technical proficiency.
At 20, Arsenal’s Academy product is now laying the sort of foundations Samir Nasri was also very much cementing, at that same age, representing a transitional maturity from potential to polished status at the end of teenage hood.
For a couple of years now, this crave for a young, skillful wide playmaker (preferably left sided) has dated way back to the exits of Robert Pires (& Alex Hleb) from the club but following Samir Nasri’s sparkling start to his Arsenal career, a sense of reassurance filled the Emirates with the ball at his feet, especially in his cracking third season.
The Frenchman epitomised the true meaning of steady progress, improving in skill and stature yearly, while also already a focal point of his national team’s attacking set-up. His goal against Porto summed up the level of potential his evasive style could get him to, and it initially seemed ludicrous to think he wanted to leave. However, players kept leaving, reality kicked in, Samir also chose a new club to earn a living and the rest isn’t really worth remembering.
Five years on from Arsenal’s ex no. 8 £25m move to Manchester City and we are almost re-living the Nasri years, as Iwobi continues to step up to the plate with dynamism and a passionate desire to do well for the football club, having the added company of more familiar citizens (English) and prime, premium top dollar quality to combine with, led by Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, who look likely to still hang around beyond Iwobi’s own potentially cracking third season.
Like Nasri, Iwobi opens it up and needs no introduction to ghost into space himself. Late runs into the box are always great to watch when attacking personnel are on the same wavelength and its great to see Bellerin also combining with Iwobi’s counterpart, Theo, who registered Arsenal’s first goal of the season, thanks to the aforementioned set-up from his fellow attacker.
Granted, it is always advised to stay cautious with Arsenal prodigies, what with Serge Gnabry, Ryo Miyaichi all expected to hit it big, on the promise of their early rave reviews. However, Iwobi’s progress looks genuine for different reasons, not least being the fact that he always wants to take responsibility, often combining excellently with his more experienced teammates, and not fazed by the occasions that have seen him star at Nou Camp.
Days are still way too early for conclusions, especially for a side like Arsenal, but it’s difficult not too get the buzz of blitz in Arsenal’s attacking third, considering the fact that Alexis Iwobi looks well assured and settled in this new look Arsenal attack.
The Nigerian International is however nowhere near being the finished article and would need much convincing in his own country and the African continent as a whole, who are still craving for a second coming of his legendary Uncle, Jay-Jay Okocha. He’s got the time to dare to aspire for half of a similar career, as well as his dedication to the game of football’s increasing defensive approach, which will only get more demanding as the game of football keeps evolving.
He’s got the build and the foundation craved for, by lots of modern day attackers so holds his own future in his hands. It is then Perhaps refreshing to watch him already ahead of his present age and peers.