Alex Iwobi received a surprise start against Chelsea and put in an industrious performance.
The Nigerian wasn’t in anyone’s predicted line-ups before the game but Arsene Wenger gave him a chance on the right hand side in Mesut Ozil’s absence. He didn’t let us down.
Statistically, Iwobi’s performance wasn’t that impressive. According to WhoScored, he made zero dribbles, had no shots on goal and, despite playing a defensive role, made no tackles.
The one stat that did stand out, however, was his pass completion.
Iwobi completed 91% of his 35 passes, a match high for an Arsenal player and the third highest of both teams. He wasn’t as creative as Ozil or Alexis would have been, but he looked after the ball, and that helped Arsenal have more of the play in Chelsea’s half. Some nice link-ups with Hector Bellerin in the first half was the highlight of his game on the ball.
Iwobi’s performance out of possession was perhaps his biggest contribution to the game, though. He was disciplined, ensuring that he was never detached from our midfield two when we weren’t pressing and blocking off Gary Cahill’s passing options when we did press. Chelsea were slow to pass out of defence and that was down to the good work of Arsenal’s frontline, including Iwobi.
He was subbed after 80 minutes for Mohamed Elneny, having put in a good shift.
It was a big call by Arsene Wenger to leave Alexis Sanchez out of the starting line-up and one that turned out to be correct.