Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta has admitted he has been impressed by the talent of Alex Iwobi.
The 19-year-old has played a bit-part role for the Gunners this season, generally coming on from the bench, although his start in the FA Cup third round tie against Sunderland at the Emirates Stadium was a performance which captivated and caught the eyes of many.
Just a week after the performance, Iwobi came on at the Britannia Stadium against Stoke City with the scores 0-0 and despite having not changed the result, Arteta, speaking in Sunday’s match programme for Chelsea’s visit, as reported by the club’s official website, claimed that the Nigerian youngster had a good impact in just 20 minutes.
You can see the change in his confidence after being given some minutes in the first team.
The Stoke game was a good example of that. He came on and had an impact straight away. His decision-making was excellent and the game didn’t run quicker than him.
To do that against a tough team in a difficult atmosphere tells you he is improving and moving forwards.
Speaking about versatility, Arteta admitted he was surprised to see that the 19-year-old could also play in central midfielder as well as on the wing.
I was surprised he could play in central midfield as well.
He is versatile and that’s a massive attribute because forwards don’t normally have that 360 vision that you need in midfield.
Alex is capable of reading the game well, understanding his positioning and his body shape when he plays.
That’s fairly unusual for a player who plays on the wing or up front. That will be important for his development.
Arsenal face Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, with Iwobi likely to be on the bench once again.