Arsenal news: Arsene Wenger urges Alex Iwobi to lose the nerves in front of goal

The midfielder missed a glorious chance against Reading to mar an otherwise fine performance

Matt Gatward
Wednesday 26 October 2016 20:06
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Alex Iwobi just needs to add goals to his game says his manager Arsene Wenger
Alex Iwobi just needs to add goals to his game says his manager Arsene Wenger

Alex Iwobi has scored twice in 32 appearances for Arsenal – a goals-per-game ratio that his manager Arsene Wenger wants the Nigerian midfielder to improve.

Having seen Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain take his tally up to five in all competitions for the season – his highest ever return in an Arsenal shirt – against Reading on Tuesday night and with Theo Walcott already up at the giddy heights of eight, Wenger has urged Iwobi to follow their examples and get among the goals.

Iwobi has made the left wing position his own this season but was moved to the No 10 spot against Reading with German playmaker Mesut Ozil rested and he gave an impressive performance…until he spoilt it somewhat when he snatched at a golden opportunity to put the game out of sight for Arsenal. The home team were 1-0 up halfway through the second period when Oxlade-Chamberlain’s stinging shot was palmed out by goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi straight into Iwobi’s stride. With the goal gaping and the keeper prone, the midfielder’s usual poise deserted him and he snatched at his left-footed effort, putting into the turf and wide.

Arsenal added their second shortly afterwards – game over - so the miss was largely forgotten. Had Reading equalised instead the fluffed lines may have attracted a bit more critical attention.

“He’s not a typical winger,” Wenger said of Iwobi after the match pointing out that he does not have the burning pace of a Walcott or an Oxlade-Chamberlain. “He can play in the No 10 role because he turns forwards and passes through the lines very well. He has it all in his locker to give the final ball.”

And then the rub. “Now we want the finishing - that is a little part missing in his game. He is too nervous when he has the possibility to finish. Tension is something goal-scoring doesn’t like. You have to be relaxed to finish.”

Wenger has said similar things about Walcott and Oxlade-Chamberlain down the years and the penny seems to have dropped with those two. Iwobi’s great advantage is that he is only 20, three years Oxlade-Chamberlain’s junior and seven years younger than Walcott. Given that Wenger does not believe a player reaches full maturity until 23 and is not at his peak until around 27, time is well and truly on Iwobi’s side to improve those goals-per-game stats.

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