Tag Archives: Alex Iwobi

Alex Iwobi – Silly Boy

Silly boy.

Had Arsenal won on Sunday, had Alex Iwobi been playing well recently, it would have been a complete non-story. But Arsenal did not win, and Alex Iwobi has been rank awful all season.

Some people will point to the fact he is just 21 years old, and all of us have had a beer on a work night. Hell, in my younger days, I would occasionally go out until 5am on a Tuesday morning, head straight into work pissed, and battle through the day. But then I was not paid £50,000 a week to do so (not even £50k a year).

And whilst I would do this, I would still perform over the year – One of the top billers in my company. So not much would be said if I came in drunk or hungover from the night before.

Had I not been performing, not far exceeding my minimum standard, I would have been pulled aside, warned that my behaviour was affecting my performance, and disciplined accordingly.

Staying out until 2.30am on a Saturday morning was just poor judgement by Alex Iwobi.

Yes, it happened often back 20-30 years ago, but Paul Merson in his book mentioned that in the modern era of smart phones, the likes of the Tuesday club and doing cocaine in the back of a black cab would not have happened.

Alex Iwobi is on £50,000 a week, he is a professional footballer. He might only be 21, but he is not a normal 21 year old. He is not a student falling out of the Hippodrome in Colchester at 4am. He is paid a lot of money to be at peak physical fitness. This means diet, sleep and watching what you consume.

He might not have been drinking, he might not have been doing drugs, but he needs to be aware of who he is associating with. The excuse of “it was my mate smoking weed, I just inhaled second hand smoke” is not a valid excuse in the eyes of doping control.

Iwobi fails a drug test, he could be facing a year long ban, all because his mate was smoking a little bit of the herbs.

All young footballers get paid too much too early.

Just last week, Chuba Akpom admitted drink driving after crashing £60,000 Range Rover while ‘drunk on vodka cranberry’.

Akpom, who is now 22 years old, has achieved nothing in football. He could go on to achieve nothing, yet Arsenal have made him a millionaire. This is not just an Arsenal problem, but an English football problem. It is why the national team struggle.

Young players becoming millionaires before they have contributed anything meaningful in their career.

Alex Iwobi is at a cross roads in. He is underperforming massively. He is in danger of going down the Emmanuel Frimpong route. Too much partying and social media.

Personally, I would punish him by sending him on loan for the remainder of the season. Somewhere backwards like Hull, Norwich or Bolton. Make him realise he is lucky to be at Arsenal. And see if he comes back more grown up.

Next season Alex Iwobi has to be declared as part of Arsenal’s 25 man squad. This means he takes up a space. The club will evaluate as to whether he is good enough to take up a space. On current performances, he doesn’t. His behaviour only makes things worse.

In a year which could see Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez leave, Iwobi should be standing up and putting in performances – like Cesc Fabregas did in Patrick Vieira’s last year – which makes the management think we have a replacement already. Instead he is misbehaving and underperforming.

His Arsenal career is hanging by a thread.

Keenos

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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly of Arsenal’s International Break

The Good

Mohamed Elneny

Egypt 2-1 Congo

Mohamed Elneny played the full 90 minutes of Egypt’s World Cup qualifying win over Congo which saw his country to qualify for a World Cup for the first time since 1990.

Egypt to win the World Cup: 150/1

Alex Iwobi

Nigeria 1-0 Zambia

Alex Iwobi came off the bench to score Nigeria’s only goal as the Super Eagles became the first African side to secure qualification for the World Cup. A 1-0 victory.

Nigeria to win the World Cup: 150/1

David Ospina

Colombia 1-2 Paraguay

David Ospina featured as Colombia lost 2-1 to Paraguay, with the visitors scoring twice in the final minutes to snatch the three points.

Peru 1-1 Colombia

David Ospina and Colombia will play at their second successive World Cup after securing a 1-1 draw against Peru.

Columbia to win the World Cup: 33/1

Alexandre Lacazette, Olivier Giroud

Bulgaria 0-1 France

Alexandre Lacazette and Olivier Giroud both featured in France’s 1-0 win over Bulgaria. Lacazette started in an exciting front three with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe, Giroud was an 85th-minute.

France 2-1 Belarus

Olivier Giroud became France’s joint-seventh top goalscorer as he helped France to secure their place at next summer’s World Cup with a win over Belarus in Saint-Denis. Giroud charged through to double Les Bleus’ advantage just after the half-hour mark. Giroud played the entirety of the game, with Alexandre Lacazette an unused sub.

France to win the World Cup: 5/1

Nacho Monreal

Spain 3-0 Albania

Nacho Monreal was an unused substitute as Spain hit three past Albania in World Cup qualifying.

Israel 0-1 Spain

Monreal helped Spain keep a clean sheet as the former world champions saw off Israel 1-0 in Jerusalem, courtesy of a late goal from Asier Illaramendi.

Spain to win the World Cup: 7/1

The Bad

Sead Kolasinac

Bosnia & Herzegovina 3-4 Belgium

Sead Kolasinac played the duration of Bosnia’s World Cup qualifying defeat to Belgium, where he was booked.

Estonia 1-2 Bosnia-Herzegovina

Sead Kolasinac played the first half in Tallinn as Bosnia-Herzegovina’s World Cup dreams were dashed despite them finishing Group H with a win in Estonia. Greece’s home win over Gibraltar meant it wasn’t enough to reach the play-off round.

Aaron Ramsey

Georgia 0-1 Wales

Aaron Ramsey won his 50th Wales cap and assisted Tom Lawrence’s winner in his country’s 1-0 win at Georgia.

Wales 0-1 Republic of Ireland

Aaron Ramsey was on the losing side as Wales were beaten 1-0 by the Republic of Ireland in Cardiff, ending their World Cup qualification hopes.

The Ugly

Shkodran Mustafi

Germany 5-1 Azerbaijan

Shkodran Mustafi started Germany’s World Cup qualifying win over Azerbaijan but was substituted after just 36 minutes through injury as Germany maintained their 100 per cent record in World Cup qualifying.

Germany to win the World Cup: 5/1

Alexis Sanchez

Chile 2-1 Ecuador

Alexis scored the winning goal in the 86th minute against Ecuador to seal three points for Chile, who are now on the verge of automatic qualification to the World Cup.

Brazil 3-0 Chile

Copa America winners in 2015 and 2016 – but Alexis and Chile won’t be at next summer’s World Cup. The result that saw Chile fail to finish in the top five qualifying spots in South America as a consequence of other results. Alexis played the full 90 minutes.

The Neutral

Granit Xhaka

Switzerland 5-2 Hungary

Granit Xhaka opened the scoring for Switzerland in their World Cup qualifying win over Hungary. The midfielder capitalised on goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi’s slip to slot in from close range are just 18 minutes.

Portugal 2-0 Switzerland

Granit Xhaka’s Switzerland could still make the World Cup in Russia next summer – but his Switzerland team will have to qualify through the European play-off round after losing their decisive qualifier in Portugal.

Switzerland to win the World Cup: 80/1

Europa League good for Arsenal’s future?

Sometimes to take a step forward you need to take a step back. And in a weird quirk, Arsenal failing to qualify for the Champions League could be turned into a positive for the future.

With Petr Cech unlikely to leave this summer, qualifying for the Europa League could create a situation where we could now purchase a top young keeper – such as Jordan Pickford – and have enough games for both to keep them satisfied.

Someone like Pickford is clearly a talented young keeper, but there is a big difference between making 10 saves in a game and conceding 3 goals, and being man of the match for keeping the score down, and doing nothing all game, and having to make a 90th minute save to keep the team ahead.

With the Europa League, we could sign Jordan Pickford and play him as understudy to Petr Cech. He would learn off the goalkeeping legend on the training ground, and he would get plenty of game time over the next year in the cups.

You would play Pickford in all 3 cup competitions – a potential of 14 Europa League games, 6 in the FA Cup and 6 more in the League Cup. That would be 26 in total if we make every final.

Now realistically, we will not make every final, but you would still expect there to be enough games in all 3 competitions to have Pickford play a dozen or more games.

By the time the 2017/18 season is over, Pickford would have grown as a keeper, be settled at the club, and have been fully analysed by the club staff to establish he has the mental strength to play for Arsenal. Qualifying for the Europa League will give him the game time needed to develop.

Game time will also be very important next year for the likes of Calum Chambers and Rob Holding.

Chambers looked good whilst on loan at Middlesbrough, playing in his preferred position of centre back. If Arsenal continue with 3 at the back, long term Chambers would be an excellent option for the right if that 3, but he needs to keep playing games.

Last season he stagnated due to lack of game time. Europa League (and the League Cup) would give him nearly 10 up until Christmas. It will keep him sharp and continue his develop. It would also allow him to build up a relationship with Rob Holding inside him.

Rob Holding has been given a lot of praise since breaking through due at the back end of the season, and he deserves that hype. But he is still young, he is still raw, and he still has mistakes in him. He was caught twice by Diego Costa in the FA Cup Final, one of which led to Chelsea’s equaliser.

He needs to be given time to develop, and whilst he has been excellent, he is probably not ready to start week in, week out in a title chasing side. But the flip side is he needs games to continue his development.

3 months ago I would have written a blog about how Rob Holding could do with going on loan next season. Like Chambers, he desperately needed games and with Arsenal playing 2 at the back, there were too many ahead of him. A move to 3 at the back, coupled with his own performances, means he has now had some more game time, and is too valuable to the squad to send on loan for 38 games.

The happy medium will be for him to start in the middle of a back 3 in the Europa League and League Cup, whilst being the first change if Laurent Koscileny or Shkodran Mustafi pick up an injury in the Premier League.

There will some now criticising this blog saying that Rob Holding should start every game next season. Let’s lay off him and give him the chance to develop. Mustafi Koscileny Monreal is our strongest defence, but Holding is knocking on the door. And the Europa League could help him knock that door down.

Other youngsters will also benefit from being in the Europa League.

Alex Iwobi has dropped out of contention in the Arsenal starting XI this season. In my opinion, he was played too much when clearly out of form in the first half of the season. He is barely 21 and should be handed a staring role behind the striker in the Europa League.

The extra games, and confidence, he would get from playing in the lesser competition will keep him sharp and ready if the top boys are out injured. He could be the star of the Europa League.

Alongside Iwobi, the Europa League will give a big chance to the likes of Reine-Adelaide, Chris Willock and forgotten man Gedion Zelalem to show they are good enough for the long term at Arsenal. It would also be good to see Ainsley Maitland-Niles got more of a run out.

Finally, the early rounds of the Europa League at least would be good for any potential young striker in the squad. Whether it be a chance for Chuba Akpom finally, or if Arsenal make a move for Henry Onyekuru, 10-or so games in the Europa League and League Cup will do wonders. Remember it is the competition Harry Kane used as his break through a few years ago.

Arsenal should take the Europa League seriously. But especially in the first half of the season, and potentially up until the quarter-finals, Arsenal could play a seriously rotated squad, meaning the regular starting XI get mid weeks off, and some of our most talented youngsters get game time.

Every cloud has a silver lining, and if the Europa League means we end up with Jordan Pickford, and see Chambers and Holding turn into the England internationals they are destined to be, than taking a step back into the competition could be great for Arsenal’s future.

Keenos