Arsene Wenger says he’s been pleasantly surprised by the impact of Alex Iwobi this season, despite being well aware of his potential as a player.
The Frenchman refused to send him out on loan this season and integrated him into the first team squad. Injuries and poor form have seen him given a real chance in recent weeks, starting at the Camp Nou against Barcelona a massive show of faith, and in two Premier League starts, he’s scored two goals.
He got the second against Everton two weeks ago, and the second in the 4-0 win over Watford yesterday, the kind of end product that Wenger wasn’t quite expecting just yet.
“It’s surprising how quickly he’s integrated into our game,” he said.
“He’s worked with us since the start of the season and he has grown, gained confidence and when he came in he had an impact straight away. That’s benefited from the fact that he knows everybody and they trust him as well. I didn’t expect that level of efficiency or impact on the scoresheet.”
And the manager said the reaction from the Arsenal crowd when Iwobi was taken off yesterday says plenty about him as a player.
“These people have seen many good players over the years and they know straight away when a player has something special, so they acknowledge that,” he said.
“You cannot cheat people. They’ve seen how quickly he’s improved and how well he’s played.”
Wenger’s words of praise were backed up by teammate Hector Bellerin who said, “He has shown a lot of dribbling and creativity up top. Sometimes the team needs that, it is very nice to get a breath of fresh air from a player that have come from the academy and have played in the under-21s and under-18s.
“We are very proud of him and he has done very well.”
He seems to have a level head on his shoulders too, and the potential is obvious. Let’s hope he can keep making progress and developing as a player.
It’s exciting to see a real Arsenal lad make the breakthrough.