Iwobi is a “massive asset” to Arsenal, insists Wright
Ian Wright believes Alex Iwobi can become a “massive asset” for Arsenal if given the right guidance.
The 22-year-old Gunners forward has recently attracted criticism from supporters despite being an integral part of Unai Emery’s squad.
Iwobi’s career at Arsenal. Five things to know…
- Iwobi, who is the nephew of Nigerian football legend Jay-Jay Okocha, joined Arsenal’s youth set-up in 2004.
- He made his first-team debut under Arsene Wenger in a League Cup defeat to Sheffield Wednesday (3-0) on October 27, 2015.
- Since then he’s gone on to make 130 appearances for the club in all competitions, registering 13 goals and 25 assists.
- Despite playing for England in various youth groups Iwobi opted to represent his country of birth at senior level and has won 25 caps to date.
- Only Lucas Torreira (33) has appeared more times than Iwobi (32) under Emery and only Alexandre Lacazette (8) has created more goals than him (7) since the Spanish coach took charge.
Iwobi opened the scoring in Arsenal’s recent 2-1 win away to Huddersfield Town thus ending a seven-game drought in the Premier League.
Across that period, in which the Gunners won three games and lost a further three, he still managed to pop up with two assists (in their 5-1 defeat at Anfield and 4-1 home win over Fulham).
For a while now the Nigerian international has become a source of frustration among Arsenal’s support with many bemoaning his lack of goalscoring contribution.
Wright, the club’s second all-time leading scorer, feels there’s a special player within Iwobi – who hasn’t allowed his head to drop despite the criticism that has come his way – but can only be realised with the right coaching.
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“It was a game that they were favourites to win, with Huddersfield’s record,” he said on Match of the Day.
“What I like about [Alex] Iwobi – somebody that takes a lot of stick from the Arsenal fan base – is he continually tries to get forward, and tries to play his game, which is taking players on and getting into the box.
“We are still talking about a very young player who has got a lot of ability and a lot of promise about him, and he is somebody who will get better.
“He needs a lot more encouragement but he is someone that does not hide, he doesn’t play safe or get the ball and pass sideways.
“He gets a little bit of luck with the deflection [for the goal], and he was just offside for another one. But he is somebody who, for me, with the right encouragement will be a very, very good player and a massive asset for Arsenal.
“Again he gets into a good position here and you want him to be a bit more clinical, but he is somebody they have got to get behind, he is a super player.”
A regular fixture
A year after breaking through at Arsenal the Lagos-born forward received special praise from an unlikely source. 13-time Premier League-winning manager Sir Alex Ferguson confessed he was a fan of Iwobi.
“I’m impressed with the young boy Alex Iwobi,” he said a few matches into the 2016/17 season. Since then, under the auspices of Arsene Wenger, he’s been in and out of the Arsenal team but retained a squad role.
Iwobi, nonetheless, racked up 26 league appearances in Wenger’s final two seasons. Already in this campaign under Emery he’s notched 23 with only Torreira (26), Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (25) and Lacazette (25) featuring more.
In terms of contribution only Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey, both with six assists each, have created more goals than Iwobi (5) who has been outscored (3) by Aubameyang (15), the aforementioned Lacazette (10) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (4).