Arsenal has a lot invested in young Nigerian Alex Iwobi, so to see him rocking out as the captain of the U23 side may be a bit discouraging,
But it should be anything but the lad had not started a Premier League match since the Liverpool drubbing at the start of March and only featured for 25 minutes in the last month of fixtures.
That does no one any favors. As it stands, Iwobi has been ineffective this year and the growing pains are getting to him. There is no shame in that. I can be harsh on the kid, but most of that harshness comes from Arsene Wenger‘s insistence on starting him no matter his form.
Iwobi is only 20 years old, he has all kinds of time to develop on the immense talent that he has. But two things don’t do him any favors.
- · Sitting on the bench as more effective players – Theo Walcott, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – are utilized over him.
- · Playing every single game even as his form worsens and worsens.
Both are detrimental to growth, especially No. 2, as he begins to think that dangerous thought – that there are no consequences. That he is untouchable in that starting XI.
Wenger had been running Iwobi through the mud, doing him no favors whatsoever. Giving him the captaincy for the U23 side at the No. 10 role is a catch-all solution. He gets his confidence back in a leadership role, he gets to be the centerpiece and he gets to actually play, rather than watch.
Ideally, I’d love to see this ‘demotion’ (for lack of a better word) last until the end of the season. Right now the weapons in the Gunner’s attack need to be prioritized. Danny Welbeck, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are further along in their careers and much more effective than Iwobi.
It only makes sense to give them priorities to figure out how much, if any, impact they are going to have as this team progresses into a new era.
In the mean time, let Iwobi spend his time actually playing with some of his (hopefully) future team mates in a new era of Arsenal football.
Then, when summer comes along and we have a better indication of what the hell is going to happen with all of the moving parts, we can reassess the Nigerians role in the first team. We know he has the talent to get there, but as it has so often been with Arsenal youngsters, it’s all about confidence.
There is no shame in this ‘demotion.’ It is an opportunity to develop and come back even stronger. It’s important that Wenger takes this seriously and not as a ‘mock demotion’ where he is back with the first team at the weekend.