Arsenal: Alex Iwobi can become prominent figure

Alex Iwobi scored Arsenal’s second goal in their win over Brighton on Sunday. If he can add goals and assists to his game, then he can become a prominent figure this season.

Arsenal were not at their best on Sunday. But they were good enough. Brighton and Hove Albion are a side that should be dispatched with relative comfort if the Gunners are to keep pace with those at the top of the table. And that is exactly what they did in an efficient and professional manner.

Nacho Monreal was the man who opened the scoreline, rifling home from close range after a scrappy goalmouth exchange. But it was Alex Iwobi who provided the crucial piece of quality to all-but secure the victory, thumping home after a brilliant backheel from Alexis Sanchez.

And the goal was the first of Iwobi’s this season. In fact, it is only his seventh goal for Arsenal in either the Premier League or Champions League. That is a production and output that belies his quality, and Arsene Wenger has picked up on it. Speaking after the win against Brighton, Wenger stated that he expects a player of Iwobi’s quality to be scoring 10 goals a season and assisting a further 6-10:

“A player like him must score 10 goals, and he must as well give between six and 10 assists, and that’s what I want from him. He is the kind of player who has good availability, helps you a lot to get out of pressure and creates spaces. But what you want from him is final balls and goals as well.”

This is not a new demand of Wenger either. He has, on several occasions, stated that he expects Iwobi to up the number of goals and assists that he provides, perhaps questioning his decision-making in the final third, his distribution, and his oft-criticised finishing.

Last season, in 1463 minutes of league football, Iwobi provided just three goals and three assists. In 411 minutes of Champions League football, he scored just one goal and offered no assists whatsoever. That type of production, for a player of Iwobi’s ability, is far too low.

If he is able to up that to the level that Wenger referred to in his post-match press conference, then he will quickly establish himself as a prominent figure in the squad. With Sanchez, Alexandre Lacazette and Mesut Ozil pervading the front three, it will be difficult for Iwobi to consistently break into the starting XI.

Nevertheless, when he gets the opportunity he must prove that he can be an attacking threat in and around the penalty area. Wenger has demanded it of Iwobi. He has the talent. Now, he must offer the production.