We’ve all heard the saying “one swallow does not a summer make” and in footballing terms it can be termed as “one season does not a superstar make.”
In Alex Iwobi’s case, you can be forgiven for saying that “one fortnight does not an Arsenal star make” and certainly the youngster surely has many ups and downs ahead of him before he can lay claim to that approval, but judging on his performance against Watford one thing is for sure: he has all the raw ingredients.
He has pace to burn, particularly over shorter distances, and this acceleration allows him to burst past opposition defenders unexpectedly. Crucially, his touch when moving at such pace continues to be very sharp.
Against Watford, it was noticeable in the early exchanges that Iwobi was playing at a particularly high tempo, and those also playing out towards that left hand side of the pitch – Monreal, Ozil and Welbeck – especially seemed to feed off that energy.
Alex is always quick to get his head up to assess his options and that allowed him to pick out an excellent cross field pass for Alexis to score the opener at the second attempt. Arsenal are always a completely different kettle of fish when they go ahead early, and our young Nigerian played a huge part in our head start against the Hornets.
Our second took a little while to arrive, but when it did, Alexis turned provider for Iwobi to slot home. The move showcased another of his attributes: cool finishing.
The goal against Watford was an example of not over-thinking the finish, but he also showed glimpses of his shooting variety. He had another effort tipped away by Gomes as well as stinging the crossbar with another vicious effort.
It’s particularly impressive for a player still in his teens to be so under-awed by being raised up to the first team. The temptation is usually to hide away altogether or to try to overplay.
And yet there is a simplicity to Iwobi’s game which belies his age.
He has an eye for a pass, an eye for goal, and most importantly an ability to decide very quickly and very reliably which is the better option.
It has been noticeable in each of his eight starts that he hasn’t tried to do anything too elaborate, he’s played the simple passes to keep the game moving and then kept his calm when the opportunities to make the difference have arisen.
Against Watford, as against Everton prior to the international break, Iwobi has been able to make the difference. Some of Arsenal’s other aspiring youngsters should take note.
And of course, his apparent status as the only other person in the squad to be able to play as a left sided attacker (no, Kieran Gibbs does not count) frees up Alexis to ply his trade if not entirely, then at least significantly more on the right side, where he statistically has more success.
Two premier league starts, two premier league goals and two premier league Man of the Match awards only tell half the story. He’s been able to bring some much needed balance to an Arsenal side still shorn of natural ball players like Ramsey and Cazorla, mixing incisive passing and driving runs.
This is a young man with a very bright future, but more importantly right now, a big part to play in the Arsenal present.