Alex Iwobi struggled with second season syndrome last year, so how do Arsenal ensure his progress doesn’t stall as he falls down the pecking order?
It seems a rite of passage that each young player should suffer a dip in form in their second season.
Some players suffer more than others: Calum Chambers left on loan last year to regain some confidence after a disastrous second season. Adnan Janujaz’s second season dip has extended beyond the usual 12 month mark, as he is yet to reach the heady heights of his first season with Manchester United. Even Hector Bellerin suffered a dip in form which caused many Arsenal fans to forget how important he is to the squad.
Alex Iwobi is in a similar position to each of the aforementioned.
His first season at Arsenal was a breath of fresh air. Described as a skillful forward on the Arsenal website, fans didn’t have to wait long to see what Iwobi was all about. His rangy frame contrasted with his glorious close control and neat footwork. Despite his precise manoeuvring with the ball at his feet, he seems to favour incisive passing in place of utilising his dribbling and pace.
This is a great attribute when the team is playing well. However, when the team is struggling results-wise, it is often the creative side that is sacrificed.
Iwobi was misused last season. When the team was struggling, one expects the more established stars to step up. Iwobi’s presence in the first team was often lamented as his performances were simply not up to the standard the fans have come to expect. This is not a criticism of the player – as a young skillful footballer he needs to experiment and develop. He can only learn about himself if he is willing to play that riskier pass or try that piece of skill he’s been practising on the training ground.
If the fans are low on patience, it becomes a lot riskier to try something when an attack is materialising.
At the time of writing, Wenger is yet to spend in the transfer market.
Rumours have circulated about who is going and who is leaving but nothing definitive has happened. With this in mind, Iwobi would be competing for a place in the starting line up with at least five other players: Ozil, Alexis, Welbeck, Walcott and Lucas. Although Lucas looks set to leave, Iwobi would still have four obstacles in his path to first team football.
So how does he overcome them?