Iwobi & Aubameyang: African duo hit top form in Arsenal's 5-1 rout of Fulham
Not so long ago, some doubts were cast over the futures of the Arsenal players as Arsene Wenger approached the exit door. Iwobi for example, was a scapegoat whenever the club did not perform at the expected level. The English fans could not understand why the African youngster was playing at a club like Arsenal but the new coach saw something in him that not many saw. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang was a welcome signing because of the quality he brings to the club but there was some pushback because of his proposed signing fee reported to be around £56 million. These were some of the challenges that Unai Emery inherited when he replaced Arsene Wenger who had been at the club for 22-years and has managed to create something positive out of it all. He’s got them to perform on the pitch.
Arguably one of Arsenal’s best players already this season. The 22-year-old Nigerian is looking a different player this season since being converted to an out-and-out winger. He has been confident taking on defenders with an average of 3.5 dribbles per game in the UEFA Europa League. These dribbles did not go unseen as the Arsenal Manager rewarded him with a deserved start again in the English Premier League match between Arsenal and Fulham. A second start in the new campaign since the Chelsea game.
Iwobi’s ability to create chances has not been in question. On top of that, his work rate has been crucial to Unai Emery’s philosophy at Arsenal. The Spanish manager believes in an intensive pressing game with the wingers and the forward as the protagonists. Iwobi has not been shy to track back and apply pressure when out of possession. It is this attribute that has seen him being preferred over Henrikh Mkhitaryan. The Nigerian is putting the Arsenal badge first which has resulted in heaps of praise from objective football fans across Great Britain.
After 9 games, Arsenal have won 7 and lost just 2. Iwobi has provided 3 assists and scored one goal. His numbers have not done justice to his performance this season as he has been one of the most on-form players. Iwobi is finally living up to the promise. Could he go on to have an amazing career like his uncle Jay Jay Okocha? “Who was so good” that Bolton Wanderers fans “had to name him twice”.
The Gabonese international is another African who has taken English football by storm this season. He had suffered a rough patch at the beginning of the season having failed to score from glorious chances against Manchester City and Chelsea. He has however, found top form after gaining confidence in the UEFA Europa League. Aubameyang has since scored 6 goals and provided 1 assist in 9 matches. The 29 year old forward is looking potent in front of goal.
Unai Emery has also been bold enough to bench him on 3 occasions but he has managed to come off the bench and be an impact player. Aubameyang’s pace alone is enough to deal with for a defender let alone his trickery and an eye for goal. His unselfishness has helped bring out the best in strike partner, Alexandre Lacazette. The duo have been working together for the good of Arsenal. There is surely more to come from him. There is a lot of buzz around Auba-Lacca becoming the deadliest duo in the premier league.
Arsenal is on the up, in part because these guys are doing their job in the side. Their form has rubbed off their teammates and the London club is looking a different side to the one that struggled to break down teams away from home last season. Pierre Emerick Aubameyang and Alex Iwobi are working their socks off for the team. They do deserve some praise.