Arsenal’s performance against Chelsea on Saturday was scintillating.
It was a display that not only dispelled their demons against the Blues, but one that made a real statement to their rivals that they are well in the fight for the title this season.
No Arsenal fan would have left the Emirates not feeling they had been entertained.
There were several key elements to Arsenal’s 3-0 victory.
The way centre-backs Shkodran Mustafi and Laurent Koscielny nullified the formidable threat of Diego Costa was admirable. The tireless pressing from the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott, as well as their coolness in front of goal was also instrumental in the Gunners taking a 3-0 lead at half-time.
And what about the professionalism from the Arsenal midfield to control the second-half knowing that the damage had been inflicted in the first-half? Excellent also. It was a near perfect display.
Although these performances from the men listed above are to be expected from such high-class and now experiences players, one man who is surprising and impressing more than any Arsenal player at the moment is Alex Iwobi.
Man of the match
The 20-year-old produced a man of the match display against Chelsea to further enhance his growing reputation.
Iwobi seems to be the type of player Arsenal have been missing for years. While having enough pace to go past players on the outside, the Nigerian has demonstrated his impressive skill at coming inside and creating chances.
Iwobi’s performances show how important having a technically gifted wide player is. The ability of a player to show creativity and contribute assists is invaluable to a team, especially one as a gifted as Arsenal’s.
Iwobi’s displays are taking the pressure off Mesut Ozil, who is seen as the main creator in this Arsenal side. Iwobi now has three league assists – the joint-second most so far this season.
Former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand was certainly impressed by Iwobi on Saturday.
‘He (Iwobi) played like an experienced player at getting in between their (Chelsea’s) midfield and defenders,’ Ferdinand told BT Sport. ‘You don’t really see that with young players like him. He doesn’t stand still and admire passes, he plays with an intent to hurt the opposition.’
Perhaps that’s a fault with Arsenal’s attacking play over recent years. While they can produce stunning moves, too many times have they had the ball for long periods and not used it quickly and efficiently enough to break through the opposition.
Iwobi has set about changing this.
Through his penetrative passing and intent he uses in possession, he helps Arsenal become much more effective in their attacking play. The Gunners have not had a wide player of such intelligence since Samir Nasri left the Emirates Stadium in 2011.
‘Chelsea’s players couldn’t get near him,’ said Ian Wright on BT Sport. ‘Arsenal needed something different. Chelsea would have known what Santi (Cazorla) and Coquelin do but Iwobi was the difference today’.
Such high praise can not go unnoticed. You would be forgiven to think that this was a player of far more experience being talked about in such high regard.
Yet the fact that Iwobi is only 20 years-old and has plenty of room for improvement should excite not only Arsenal fans but lovers of good football.
Iwobi’s fine potential was shown towards the back end of last season when showed skill, vision and composure of a player far ahead of his years.
He scored his first Arsenal league goal in the 2-0 league win at Everton in March and had further influential displays against Watford, Manchester City and Aston Villa. It was a bright sign of things to come.
Going forward, the form of Iwobi will be crucial to Arsenal.
The versatility in his play, whether it be demonstrating his pace and strength in wide areas, or orchestrating another slick Arsenal passing move are going to be key elements in his team breaking down far more challenging defences this season.
And while the superstars such as Ozil and Sanchez may take all the plaudits, it is 20-year-old Iwobi who is making the real difference.
Arsenal may have finally found the wide player they have been looking for.
Written by Sean Wilson
Follow Sean on Twitter @WilsonFC2012
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