With just 72 minutes between goals/assists: Do Arsenal have a new Thierry Henry?

The season threatens to fizzle out for us Gooners, unless of course next week’s three games in a row – in which nine points can be gained but also lost – throws a spanner into the works for the Foxes, who will play twice themselves. There is still faint hope that we can get close to the leaders but it is more likely that we have to fight for second or third position till the very end.

It is what it is, but luckily we have Alex Iwobi to warm our football hearts and allow us to dream of the future.

gun__1458393795_Welbeck-Everton

Since Wenger decided to have him start PL games instead of Theo or Campbell, Iwobi has been a revelation. With two goals and two assists in under 300 minutes he has been bringing in the bacon, but what is even more important is that he had real presence in all of his games. Alex gets involved all over the pitch and has a skillset that allows him to influence play everywhere. He is tenacious when he is helping out the defence, he already produces 0.8 key passes per game – on a par with the Ox and Giroud and better than Welbeck – he attacks with purpose and penetration AND he plays for the team. There is no I in team as the saying goes, but Iwobi starts with one and ends with one: the I’s of interplay and inspiration.

I did a quick analysis of average time between PL goals/assists for our attacking players and Iwobi tops the Arsenal team current with just 72 minutes. Next up is Welbeck with 107 minutes and Ozil with 109 minutes, followed by Giroud (124), Alexis (147), Campbell (176), Theo (188), Ramsey (281) and poor young Oxie with 925.

Of course it is early days and a dip in form is very likely to come, but a good start is always important for a young player and Iwobi has made a hell of a start for us: let there be no doubt about that.

What I am not sure about is what his best position is within the team and I welcome those who have seen him play a lot more than me to comment on this. Is he a new Ozil, a new Alexis, or a new Thierry even?

You tell me! 🙂

By TotalArsenal.

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42 Responses to With just 72 minutes between goals/assists: Do Arsenal have a new Thierry Henry?

  1. li says:

    He seems to be able to play across the attack with the same vision and timing in different roles. About ten years ago there was a drive to follow ajax youth coaching model. (changing positions)Is it possible Alex is a product of this way of developing players? A true joy to witness his development and as them down the road seem obsessed with it.
    one of are own

  2. TotalArsenal says:

    That is right, li: he is versatile and comfortable on the ball and can play in various positions, just like Jack and, to some to extent, Bellerin. The modern football player can ill afford to be a specialist in just one traditional position.

  3. njk84sg says:

    Good piece TA,

    Iwobi is a good player, while he can play through the midfield positions, he is best suited for the midfielder behind the striker.

    This does not spell trouble for Ozil. Instead, it takes the stress off Ozil and he is able to roam the midfield, ala Rambo or Elneny, and finding openings in defense.

    This is why he is capable of scoring so quickly.

    I see him as a less bulked up version of Henry, or even Bergkamp, which he needs time to get to the level of the 2 greats, but clearly he is someone worthy.

    Cheers,
    Jk

  4. Gerry says:

    Can I have a little gripe here … as far as I know he is Alex Iwobi. He is the the only Alex Iwobi in our team. This obsession in modern ‘journo speak’ with prefixing every player with promise with ‘the next…..XXXX’, really grates with me.

    That said, this is a nice post on a player who has brightened our end of season toils, and is a beacon of hope for many more aspiring young players. We have heard a lot of moans about how many young players actually get a chance to play first team football, in this culture of spending big on the ready made article. Well here is a suggestion for the FA/FL to ponder:

    For every 15 players in club’s academies, on loan or playing in the Under 21 league, the club has to have one named youngster in their starting line up?

    It might at least slow down the money rich teams of amassing a huge numbers of talented youngsters, even if they will still poach the best of them.

    Back to Alex. I said in a comment after his first start in this run of games that he and Elneny were joint ‘MOTM’ from what I saw that day. For once I was proven to be right for thinking his impact went beyond that game. However, I still believe that Elneny can take an enormous amount of credit for that. He trusted the lad with his passes, and their pass and move style compliments each other. Both are positive, and can make things happen.

    What makes Iwobi special is instant decision making. Knowing what he is going to do with the ball before he gets, and as he is developing his game, he can see alternatives if the first thought has been closed down. This is what all the great players have, and what brings the comparisons?
    That assist to Alexis, chipped over a struggling defence was pure magic. For me it brought back memories of another Alex … Alex Song? Yeh, I know, he divides opinion, but we have not had another player since Cesc who could place those chips so perfectly, yet with the casualness of a tap back to the ‘keeper. – When we played Burnley in an early round of the ‘Cup, they showed a clip from a game before. The tear jerker when Eduardo scored with the same foot that was previously dangling off his shattered leg. Weep at the significance of that goal by all means, but it was Alex Song who chipped that inch perfect pass …. – That is the promise of Alex Iwobi.

    I would not waste too much time in trying to pigeon hole him with a numerical position. Just be thankful that he is on the pitch, and playing for us.

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  5. Pony Eye says:

    Alex Iwobi is a 19 yr old lad, and still has a lot of maturing to do. Potentially he is full of promises, despite the fact he is already performing at a high level. His chief attributes are;
    1) he runs with the ball with short strides, and such players are not easy to tackle or dispossess. (Wilshere runs with longer strides and therefore invite tackles and injuries),
    2) Iwobi, like Aguero, unlike Alexis, has good balance which indicates a good upper body strength. He is not easily shoved off the ball,
    3) he can run at the defense, yet he has the awareness of the field and the gift of good timing as to when to release the ball, unlike the Ox,
    4) one of his biggest asset (for such a young lad), is his ability to run off the ball. That’s an incredible awareness of space and opportunity ( totally lacking in Ox and in fact Iwobi is already ahead of most of his team mates in this area),
    5) his energy into spaces in the box is fascinating (the only lack that did not earn the exquisite Rosicky the status of a MF great). This means he is hungry for goals (if only Welbz would be as hungry),
    6) Iwobi does not allow any good opportunity to shoot at goal to pass him by, and in this area he leaves you with the impression that he will hit the prolific height very quickly,
    7) the way his weaker left foot rattled the crossbar against W Ham tells us we haven’t got another Gibbs in our midst,
    8) when the opponent has the ball Iwobi has great enthusiasm for trying to cover passing lanes, but seems not to have articulated what the role for effective pressing and tackling for the ball is (job of the coaches to articulate it for him and in this case he could also learn from Welbz or Sanchez).

    There is no doubt we got ourselves a good player. But too much should not yet be asked of him.

  6. TotalArsenal says:

    The next Alex Song…. Gerry you never stop surprising me hahaha 😅

  7. TotalArsenal says:

    Jk, good point of Ozil and Iwobi interchanging a lot and both able to play in the hole.

  8. TotalArsenal says:

    Fine comment PE. How do the Nigerians think about him?

  9. Pony Eye says:

    Contd;
    9) Iwobi is versatile. He can play any midfield attacking role.
    He is no Song, he is no Alexi, no Ozil, no Ramsey, nor Wilshere, nor Campbell, nor Ox, nor ……. he is Iwobi.

  10. TotalArsenal says:

    Sounds like TH to me, PE 😌

  11. Pony Eye says:

    “How do Nigerians….” …@ TA,

    Nigerians love Iwobi’s uncle Jay Jay Okocka. He is a Nigeria’s football icon. He was so pretty his mother named him twice! But Nigerians are excited about Iwobi on his own steam, as his own man. There is a feeling he needs a wee bit more time, but we can hardly wait for that morrow to come.

  12. li says:

    I remember watching song in u21s and he seemed to struggle at that level. How he played for Barca *&%# knows. Iwobi seems to always be in tune with rhythm of game. What Titi means when he says respecting the game I think. A shining light when one really was needed and a true reflection of modern multicultural London. Don’t really care but England nat team will suffer.

  13. TotalArsenal says:

    PE, hahahaha: he was so pretty his mother named him twice! It would be great if you could do a post about JJO and how Nigerians hope Iwobi will become hi own man (but as good as his uncle) one day!! 🙂

  14. TotalArsenal says:

    A big compliment for Iwobi, li. I don’t understand your last sentence: what do you mean to say?

  15. Pony Eye says:

    ” Sounds like TH …” @ TA,

    Thierry Henry? Thierry Henry? Wait a minute ………..I think you’re right. That’s the closest. A little bit more composure, more confidence, more cunning and Henreee is back! Am wowed!

  16. Gerry says:

    Hey, before you start a run on it TA … AT NO POINT did I compare Alex Iwobi’s game with that of Alex Song. :angry:

    It was a compliment to his skill on chipping a ball as, indirectly, to Cesc Fabregas. For all his other failings, Song did that on a fairly regular basis … or have we forgotten those RVP ‘Goal of the Month’ contenders???

    With the possible exception of Cazorla, I cannot think of any other midfielder, apart from the aforementioned, in recent seasons who can claim more than the odd chip in a 100.
    Perhaps you can?
    And remember, Song was mostly deployed as a defensive midfielder. I have two things that make me think of Song more fondly than most; One, his delightful chips; Two, him carefully treading on that turd called Joey Barton 😀

    Hey PE, No 9 was my line. I copyrighted it earlier 😀

    I am not sure when praising a player it is necessary to denigrate another?
    Ox for example. We all know he has gone down a bit of a downward spiral, but before we bought him, the Saints coach at the time said of him (when Ox was getting in their first team at a very young age) ..’… his best qualities is his awareness, and ability to bring others into the game’. His problem here has been not getting a run of games without injury, or shifting position, and has knocked his confidence to a point where he tries too hard to impress. Sadly, I think he may well have to leave before he can fully show what a truly talented player he is?

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  17. TotalArsenal says:

    Hahaha PE – there is potential and the style of play appear similar, but yes, very big boots to fill of course; and he will also become his own man, no doubt about it. 🙂

    Gerry: I was extracting the urine! :0 🙂 🙂 😮

    I am a big fan of the other Alex, and yes, he did produce the most exquisite balls over the top to serve the traitor.

  18. 17highburyterrace says:

    Well, to carry on from the previous thread, if Iwobi does turn out to be the next Henry (world class) it will have been a very good thing we got him into the academy when we did… 🙂

    Before we get too carried away or read to much into the goals/assist stat–Imagine Andy Carroll’s goals/minute for example–I think we need to give a bit of credit to the manager for putting young Alex into a pair of situations where he could flourish. He looked good as Ozil’s stand in during those early FA cup matches and, now, playing with him, he’s doing very good things in those free winger roles you get when you have a team full of #10s. The key is probably that he doesn’t seem worried about drifting central and playing intelligently off Ozil’s constant (and very unselfish) movement.

    I like others’ observations about the attributes in his game. The chipped passes are one element, the short strides are another. Incredibly decisive and uninhibited are how I’d describe his recent play which puts him a step ahead of far more experienced defenders and deep lying mids here at the end of a long season. It could be argued that he’s playing a lot like Alexis did over on that left side early in his first season (before he’d been “found out” as the haters like to say or without lumbering Giroud clogging his spaces) except that he’s got more of an eye for the pass than the shot. TA and I got to see him at Sheffield Wednesday and he was at the heart of our best move of the night (right below us). He chose to pass when he should have shot but it all happened very quickly so we couldn’t fault his decisiveness, only his decision…

    That can be a bit of a double edged sword, however, and if you look at his passing stats I think the picture might change. I watched parts of the West Ham match a second time and Iwobi’s quickness put them on the back foot early on but there were also plenty of misplaced passes and touches which contributed to that overall feeling that things were very end to end and that we were failing to control the match–a critical error once we had given ourselves a two goal advantage. Experience will likely teach him when to take the safer options rather than always working the quickest advantage if the team is not well shaped in case of a turnover. Iwobi’s incomplete backward touch-pass, after all, set the Hammers away on the break that found Cresswell with all afternoon to pick out Carroll for their opener.

    Overall, I’ll take the confidence, decisiveness and quickness, esp. here when we need a spark of one sort or another (and we need 3 points per match)–and hope that he learns from his mistakes. For the short term he needs plenty of cover behind him and must play in one of those 4 front spots, which are quite interchangeable these days with all of DW’s movement. (The same could probably be said of guys like Ramsey and the Ox who tend to forget about blunting their sense of adventure even when they’re assigned deeper roles.) But then, also from the discussion in the previous thread when you add in the NEED for a PR splash on a big money forward-type, I worry how much patience Gooners will have with Iwobi (similar to other players added to the squad as youngsters, like Rambo or the Ox) if the goals/assists dry up and with so many other, bigger investments ahead of him. For me, he doesn’t need to be the new Henry. It’s enough that he’s adding a bit of the verve that fit and in-form would-be #10s like Santi, Jack and Rambo might provide. Keep them on their toes and good things are likely to happen…

  19. TotalArsenal says:

    Andy Carroll = 121 minutes between goals/assists.

    Cheers Seventeenho. There is room for up and coming talent and super quality, so I cannot see it being an issue that we would get say Griezman and yet develop Iwobi into our own super quality. The fans would love that scenario as well.

    Had a quick look at his passing stats compared to others and they look good… 😕

  20. 17highburyterrace says:

    I bow to the stats people… but what I meant (obviously) is that if you looked at Andy Carroll over say the last 5 minutes before and first 10 minutes after the break in the match the other day his ratios would be skewed… In other words, the Iwobi sample size is probably on the small side… 😀

    Again, I’d think a little credit is due the manager for creating a situation where the individual is successful is also a very big factor at least somewhat at the heart of the matter…

    It makes me wonder about Elneny, and I have to wonder if we might have had some better results in that stretch of draws (Pool, Stoke, So’ton) and the loss to Chavs if he could’ve come into the side earlier…

    I know you’re tired of the meta-discussions but I think Gooners wanting it both ways–promoting youth vs buying ready-made and the answer being correct only if results are positive is a tough spot for EVERYBODY at the club–including the players. Giroud missing that opening day shot, and all… That said, nobody can claim you’re not doing your part trying to highlight the positive… 🙂

    IMO, Iwobi is playing with a freshness and fearlessness that could be a lot of fun if it catches on… Since our season–barring a miracle–is a “failure,” we should use these remaining matches to see if we can do just that…

  21. Gerry says:

    i know what you were doing with your ‘Next Alex Song’, but suddenly two others were picking up on that and making it something different. … I bet you enjoyed that too? 😀

    I am not sure I can agree that someone like Griezman would not displace the up and comers. His price tag alone would mean pressure to play him, in the same way that Akexis and Ozil do.

    My equally ‘pricey’ thought would also want similar guarantees, but he might settle for good coaching and prolific use as a sub, before he earns a spot in the side. It was reported this morning that Spurs were making inquiries … but as I understand it, we might have an ally in the French camp, in a former Arsenal player being a Director of football there. So at least AW should be kept in the loop?

    If, and it is a big ‘if’, we do sign him, I see him being the ideal player to bring on for Iwobi if he still does not last beyond the 60 minutes. Mind a bigger thought on that, Iwobi has said he wants to play for Nigeria at the Olympics? So we may not see him before September anyway? Again, ‘OD’ would be able to carry that mantle throughout the pre-season games, although he may be away on Youth duty for France? Mind, we have to sign him first before worrying about that 😀

    Further down the line, I could see that pair combining to make a really exciting attacking duo. Throw in ‘The Jeff’, and maybe Akpom, Zelalem or Toral, and the 2018/19 season could be the start of a golden era …..especially with others snapping at their heels?

    As regards to Over-playing Iwobi, my guess is he will miss out on the trip to Sunderland, but be okay for the W.Brom and Norwich games either side? A lot depends on how his ‘deputies’, Ramsey and Wilshere contrive to bugger up the works when the get their chance?

    Ha! Ha! TA, revenge is sweet? 😀 😀 😀

    Cheers,
    Gerry

  22. TotalArsenal says:

    Right then, will we see a surprise or will it be Real, Barca and Bayern in the semis again?

  23. 17highburyterrace says:

    I would not expect surprises but Benfica have the early goal so poised for ET in that one…

    Oooh… So do Atleti…except they have the lead on away goals… Big 50+ mins for Admir’s faves…

    Too much down-time in that match so time to check in on the FA Cup replay…Man U ahead through Rashford…and Fellaini… LvG given a lifeline?…

    It could be past Gerry’s bedtime…If so, does anybody have the decoder ring so I can understand the transfer news?…

  24. li says:

    Sorry meant England national team will suffer for ignoring him at u19s. Really great blog even has sane comments section. Some true passion for Songs chips.

  25. Admir says:

    Just to say hi to 17. 🙂 I hope he has seen how a manager worth of 8 millions per year looks like. 🙂

    Griezmann is great.

  26. TotalArsenal says:

    So we had a surprise after all. Plenty of controversy, it seems, but for once Barca are on the receiving end.

    Thanks li, make sure you’ll visit again 😀

  27. 17highburyterrace says:

    Hi Admir… Just woke up after the Atleti strangle job put me to sleep… (Actually, I had to step out…and only just saw the end on tape…) Effective football for sure, but I’m not sure if I’m ready for such an approach at my club of choice. Very impressive atmosphere, however, in the Calderon which I think helped a lot. (Didn’t sound like la biblioteca to me…)

    Regardless, I’d suggest the chances of Simeone or Griezmann to Arsenal are just about zero. There is no will, I fear, so there is no way…. 😦

    Instead we should embrace our own reality…Iwobi, the Nigerian Griezmann? Bouldy, the English Simeone? etc., etc…

    Anyhow, until next time…probably Sunday when we (like Martinez’ Everton) fail to break down the guy’s team who has been stealing our level of Frenchmen…Alain Pardieu…

    🙂

  28. TotalArsenal says:

    Admir

    Funny you point out Simeone as a Performer and VFM rather than the soon available Peligrini, who also made it to the last four and who fits the club”s philosophy a lot better…

  29. Admir says:

    @TA

    Pellegrini would be a step back. I don’t want a man who thinks Sterling is worth of 49 million pounds at Arsenal. He can’t afford to spend 120 million pounds on three mediocre players at Arsenal. His City have been more defensively naive than Arsenal, he has brought Demichelis with himself and kept faith in him even if he has always been a walking disaster and his record against Arsenal is piss poor – one league victory in five matches and that one was totally thanks to Atkinson.

    @17

    I presume you fell asleep when Arsenal got through at El Madrigal in 2006 against mighty Villarreal when we put Henry upfront and ten players behind the ball. I recall at one moment Henry had the ball at our own half and nobody went forward to help him. Or counter-attacking master-piece in our two victories over Bayern in the last three years.

    And, if you had watched the game, you would notice how

    Speaking of controversial decisions, Iniesta should have been sent off, he denied a clear chance for Gabi with his handball. Later, it was Iniesta who made the cross that was blocked inside the box. Out of context, it was a decision against Barca. In the context, Iniesta shouldn’t have been there at the first place.

  30. Admir says:

    Part of my comment was erased due to connection issues.

    “You would have noticed how Atletico denied space to Barcelona attackers, how they cut all supply lines to Messi, Suarez and Neymar. Suarez got away with an elbow in his compatriot’s eye leaving him with a plum on the eye.

    Iwobi? I like the kid, he has such a special touch but I would wait for a while. He can be a new Anelka in terms of (too) early rise, he can be a new Vela (who should have been old Griezmann) in terms of (too) good (to be true) performances as a youngster only to completely disappear later.

    We can get Griezmann for, I think, 57 million pounds or, to translate it to Arsene, £57.000.000,00 pounds, no need for that one extra pound.

  31. allezkev says:

    It seems, to be successful in europe, you have to be defensively organised and switched on for 90+ minutes, obvious I know, but it’s surprising how many managers find it difficult to prepare that way.

    The only time, I can recall Arsenal looking tactically capable on a regular basis in europe was under George Graham. If it hadn’t been for the ban on English clubs, at the start of his reign then I think he might have won more at that level.

    Because of the nature of european competition and how it differs from the British game, I wonder if it’s always likely that a defensively astute team will more often than not beat an attacking team?

    I know that Simeone isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I like him…

  32. Admir says:

    @allezkev

    I don’t think it’s down to defensive character. Barcelona have won ECC/CL five times since 1992, Real have done it four times and neither of those two are well-known for their defending.

    Pep Guardiola plays attractive and positive football and he has reached at least semifinal in each of his seven CL campaigns.

  33. allezkev says:

    That’s true Admir, but they are an exception, mainly because they have the pick of the best players in the world…

  34. TotalArsenal says:

    Admir,

    Pelligrini is just spending it because he has too. I am sure he would be a clever player buyer with good knowledge of the South American market. Not a problem at all and not a step back either imo. Not that Wenger is going anywhere till 2020. 😉

  35. TotalArsenal says:

    17HT,

    Saw your email. Yes I will do the preview.

    Have a good day FFGs

  36. Admir says:

    @TA

    Did you just write: “Not that Arsenal will win the league till 2020”? 😛

    Pellegrini couldn’t get the best out of Ronaldo, his best players are always injured and he gets massacred against better managers (and that includes Arsene).

    Have a nice weekend yourself. 🙂

    P.S. Speaking of Pellegrini and Real, I remembered a player called Isco and, subsequently, a certain lad named Glic. Where the hell is he?

  37. Pony Eye says:

    This season’s top 4 will end up tighter than most think.

  38. Pony Eye says:

    Leicester has the best chances, but then any of 4 numbers can win and the sequence is anybody’s guess. Chl v Man c 0-3.

  39. Pony Eye says:

    We are now 4th, any slip we are 5th, yet there’s still a dog’s chance of being champions. Crazy!

  40. Admir says:

    We just have to win both of our home games before a trip to Big Fat Sam. We will then have back-to-back matches against Sunderland and Norwich who fight for the last place in Premier League next season. Manchester City with reborn Nasri, Aguero and KdB could pip us for the third spot though and if Liverpool win Europa League…

  41. Pony Eye says:

    As am meant to understand, if Liv wins the Europa they will become the 5th Champions league team. I beg to be corrected. Am still with the strong feeling that the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th sequence is still anybody’s guess. Even that 4th position can still be assaulted by the present 5th, 6th placed teams. Two unexpected losses by a team could alter things dramatically. Tension reigns.

  42. TotalArsenal says:

    New Post New Post 🙂

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