The Chalkboard: What Iwobi brings to Arsenal

Fixture In Focus banner Richard Lee

Arsenal were underwhelming in their 2-1 win over Premier League strugglers Huddersfield Town on Saturday. Goals from Alex Iwobi and Alexandre Lacazette proved enough to give the Gunners the victory but the performance from Unai Emery’s side left plenty to be desired.

Despite having opened the scoring, Iwobi was one of the Arsenal players who struggled to win over the travelling crowd, as he was jeered off by some of his own fans when he was substituted in the 88th minute.

The chalkboard

The response that Iwobi’s performance received from a section of the Arsenal support was unfair. The 22-year-old had in fact produced a hard-working, persistent display in trying circumstances. Whilst there was also a touch of fortune about his goal, his movement and technique was laudable.

The 21-cap Nigeria international’s game was far from perfect. He should certainly have had a second goal as he squandered a very presentable chance. However, the function he serves in Emery’s team is a vital one, the importance of which is seemingly going overlooked by some.

Watch the video below to see the most insane overhead kick you will see this week…

Credit where it’s due

Iwobi has become a favourite of Emery’s since the Spaniard’s appointment. The forward has been a regular starter this season, having made 15 starts in the Premier League from a total of 23 appearances. In that time he has registered three goals and five assists – a respectable return – as per Transfermarkt’s stats.

However, Iwobi’s main function in the side is as a ball-carrier. No one else in the Arsenal squad has the combination of power, pace, flair and dribbling ability that Iwobi possesses. He is therefore often tasked with shuttling possession out of the defensive third and into the attacking one. 

It is important to note that his role is not to replace Mesut Ozil as an arch creator, nor Alexis Sanchez as a goalscoring wide man – even if this what the Arsenal fans want, or have come to expect from attacking players at the Emirates Stadium.

The young winger still needs to improve his game in many areas, but in this tremendously difficult role he is generally doing a fine job for the Gunners. He is a player who deserves credit for what he is, not criticism for what he isn’t.