Tag Archives: stats

Iwobi Needs To Push On Next Season

Alex Iwobi divides opinion like he divides opponents legs.

Our very own ‘Nutmeg Prince’ has been a first team fixture since 2015, but speak to some and his name will be one of the first names on the departure list this summer.

Our very own Academy product has failed to grow his contributions since Arsene Wenger stated in his last season that the Nigerian’s final product was the one thing that needed to improve. Wenger mentioned that the attacker had everything else in his locker, but the most decisive part was still the one weapon Iwobi really needed to hone.

And the stats don’t lie.

Of course, numbers don’t always give true perspective on a player. They offer a certain viewpoint and shine light on certain facets of a player, but like holding a gemstone to the light, you won’t see every part until you look at it from all angles.

The same applies to Alex Iwobi.

Iwobi Pic

 

The Nigerian scored three times and claimed six assists in 35 appearances in the Premier League this season. The season before saw the same amount of goals and one assist less.

Now this plateauing of numbers could be attributed to a new coach, new system, new tactics, training etc. It will at least have a contributing effect, but another variable is that Iwobi still hasn’t drastically improved his final ball – or final decision.

It is abundantly clear that Iwobi has the touch and the tell-tale attributes that comprise the makeup of a great attacker. At times we have seen him produce slide rule passes and touches that bewitch his opposing number.

We have also seen him make the wrong decision time and time again.

The good thing is, this can be taught. Remember that Iwobi is still nowhere near his peak and so is still developing.

The saving grace for Iwobi too, is that we have no one in the squad that adds what he does.

His particular skillset is based on confrontation with opposing fullbacks and producing opportunities either through a pass or creating them for himself. He goes past players like they are mere apparitions at times, and he does it better than anyone in the team, like it or not.

So he has a place as he can change games. He seems ideally suited to an impact sub role at the moment, but he isn’t far away from unlocking his true potential. The problem is patience.

It seems like Iwobi has been on the scene for some time, but this was only his third full season in the first team. Yes, he should have a better final ball right now, but there aren’t many his age – Hudson-Odoi is an exception – that bring to the table what he does.

Iwobi is on the precipice right now. His natural ambition will be to want more than to be a squad player at Arsenal – but that is where he is right now. He has the key to unlocking so much more in his locker, but he must listen to those that know better. The extensive array of backroom staff, his teammates who have gleaned worldwide experience. If he can learn from others then there is hope of seeing Iwobi push on.

Next season sees a fresh challenge for Iwobi. With Reiss Nelson, Jo Willock and Emile Smith-Rowe coming back into the fold, he has more competition for his spot. It is clear that he will have to not only do more than what he has done this season, but also he has to act as a big brother to those younger than him. That is the essence of a team, and Iwobi has a role to play.

The Nigerian has the world at his feet, but the next step is the most precarious. Fingers crossed we see the new and improved Iwobi next season.

Arsenal Vs Leicester City – Match Preview

For the first time in a while, we are looking to a Premier League fixture with a dash of optimism. 

Our win over Manchester City in the FA Cup showed guts and character – traits we have been painfully short of – and hopefully it sparks a run of positive results that we so desperately need.

It isn’t just confidence that we will take from our Semi-Final win – tired legs will be an issue as well as the players left everything out on the field at Wembley. Rotation may come into the equation so players who have been on the sidelines may figure against a resurgent Leicester City side. 

There was no fresh injuries incurred in the weekend, but Santi Cazorla, Lucas Perez and David Ospina are again out. What is of interest is the players who may come into the side. Danny Welbeck was originally thought to be out of the game against City, but was fit enough to make the bench. With Olivier Giroud registering a blank in his last game, could Welbeck again return to lead the attack? His pace could be key against a Foxes defence who will be without captain Wes Morgan. 

Alexis is pretty much undroppable at present, as is Mesut Ozil, and both were industrious and key against City. One player who has really enjoyed some form of late is Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and his excellent grasp of our new formation has seen The Ox rise to prominence. His deliveries, his running at the defence, has been chief among reasons why we have won our last two games. 

Theo Walcott has missed out in those two games, despite his excellent run of goals. The speedy attacker may just come back into the side in order to keep legs as fresh as possible, and with our next game being the North London Derby, eyes may drift toward the weekend rather than this game. 

Mohamed Elneny, Francis Coquelin, Kieran Gibbs, Hector Bellerin and Alex Iwobi may all feature in this game as it is the least demanding when compared to the next two – which is tottenham and Man United. Objectively, should our peak-fitness footballers be able to hack these fixtures in such a small space of time?

Shkodran Mustafi is one who looks to be out for the game, and with our switch to 3-5-2 coinciding with his time out of the team, will the German find a passage back into the team as easy as before? Laurent Koscielny, Gabriel and Rob Holding have taken to the tactical switch like ducks to water, and with the formation still new, a change in lineup at the back may be detrimental to performance.

One thing is for sure, the game won’t be easy. The Foxes have been in imperious form, and Jamie Vardy has rediscovered his touch in front of goal as well. We failed to beat them in the corresponding fixture earlier in the season, and now they have found their form again, a real test to grab all three points is on the cards.

With the negativity of recent months just a bad result away and our European hopes resting on every ninety minutes, it will be the true characters who come to the rescue in every game. We need every one of them to stand up and be counted. 

One thing to note, Leicester have not won in their last four games in all competitions and their record against us is pretty awful – one win in the EPL in 21 attempts. Then again, so was Palace’s record against us and look how much that counted for. 

A win here would be the first time in over three months we win back to back PL games. That is something that needs to be rectified immediately.

Predicted Lineup – Cech, Gabriel, Koscielny, Holding, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Xhaka, Ramsey, Gibbs, Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0

Watford Vs Arsenal – Match Preview

Two games into the season, and the voices of dissent can already be heard. 

Defeat in the first game of the season against Liverpool, followed by a hard fought goalless draw away to champions Leicester have seen Arsenal fail to register a win – and now trail the clubs at the top of the table by five points.

Victory over Watford therefore, is imperative, but the Hornets will be no pushover. 

Walter Mazzarri’s side pushed Antonio Conte’s Chelsea all the way last week, slipping to an agonising late 2-1 loss, and the Italian will ensure that the Gunners will have to up their game if they wish to gain maximum points.

In terms of team news, Arsene Wenger will continue to be without Alex Iwobi and Aaron Ramsey, both injured in the first game of the season, adding to the already crocked Per Mertesacker, Danny Welbeck and Gabriel.

In terms of team changes, it is unclear whether Mesut Ozil will have acquired enough match fitness to start the game, after making a cameo in the stalemate at the King Power stadium last weekend, but he and Olivier Giroud have every chance of jumping straight into the team.
When asked about the duo, Wenger yesterday said he had a decision to make on whether Ozil starts, but that Giroud was a little behind in terms of fitness.

Joel Campbell is now on loan at Sporting Lisbon, and there are murmurs of Calum Chambers being allowed to acquire minutes elsewhere on loan also, so expect Rob Holding to continue alongside the imperious Laurent Koscielny.

Alexis Sanchez will be in the team in one position or another, be it the sole frontman, or on his more familiar wide role. The Chilean has lacked a cutting edge thus far, but as ever it is not through a lack of effort. Expect a big game from the South American.

Led by Quique Sanches Flores last season, they pushed us hard before succumbing in both games, as well as dumping us out of the FA Cup, with more or less the same squad they possess now.

Odion Ighallo will continue to lead the line, and is off the mark for the season after netting in their defeat at the hands of Gillingham in the EFL Cup. Etienne Capoue is enjoying a purple patch too, with two goals in two PL games, so whoever is on sentry duty in an Arsenal shirt will have to be fully aware of his position.

It is unclear whether new signings Roberto Pereyra and Daryl Janmaat will make their debuts for the Hornets, but whoever makes the team, what is underlined is that three points must be taken from Vicarage Road.

Jack Wilshere was the third substitute alongside Giroud and Ozil last week, and the England man will be keen to get more minutes today, but Mohamed Elneny, Santi Cazorla, Granit Xhaka and Francis Coquelin will be in pole position to play in his central midfield position. Plenty of options in the centre of the park, but a selection headache is exactly what top clubs need to navigate a gruelling season.

Wenger has some decisions to make before kickoff.

Predicted lineup: 

Cech, Bellerin, Holding, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Coquelin, Sanchez, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, Giroud.

Predicted Scoreline – 2-0 Arsenal.

‘ITV7’ – An Arsenal Book Review

Sequels are usually a bad thing. The general rule of thumb is that when revisiting a good thing, you will either lose what you were chasing or you will fail to capture what was good about the original. Die Hard 2 was a great film, but did it come remotely close to the thrills of Nakatomi Plaza in the first Bruce Willis action-fest?  The same goes for most mediums. Super Mario Bros 2 was abysmal when compared with the first game with the squat Italian plumber. Ditto for the second series of Twin Peaks and the disappointing second series.

So, the lesson to be learned is that if you have a good idea, don’t be tempted to revisit, as it’s never the same.

Continue reading ‘ITV7’ – An Arsenal Book Review