Alex Iwobi did something that we all grow up wishing – if you had dreams of being a footballer – which is scoring the winning goal for your team. The Nigerian attacker guided his country towards qualification at next year’s World Cup in Russia, with the only goal in the matchup against Zambia. Iwobi came on as a substitute, before slotting home what would be the only goal, as well as the only requirement Nigeria needed to bless the World Cup with their presence.
He would run past the slumped figures of Zambian players, towards the corner flag, chaperoned by his Nigerian compatriots, displaying his usual celebration. It’s a celebration that Arsenal fans hope to see more often this season.
The 21-year-old, who right now sits atop the throne as a cult hero in Nigeria, has booked his plane ticket to next year’s World Cup in Russia. Though, this could just be scratching the surface of what promises to be a great season for him, as he aims to cement his place in the starting line up for Arsenal.
The Nigerian playmaker has been on the outside looking in at Arsenal, with his place in the side flitting. However, a goal before the international break, and one during the break, will do him all the favours of a stronger foothold. It’ll be an important foothold that could serve him well as Arsenal plans their transition from a post-Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil era.
It’s obvious what you get when Iwobi features in the side; a player that never shies away from the ball, technically gifted, as well as a creative impetus in the final third. This collective skill-set meshes well in Arsenal's philosophy that practices intricate passing patterns to unearth chances at goal. Though there is one key factor that is missing from his game, and that is his end product.
The Nigerian has fluffed many frustrating chances that serve as a blemish against his name. This is a possible reason why Arsene Wenger would favour the services of Theo Walcott if the team were in need of a goal.
Iwobi capped off an impressive goal against West Brom before the league adjourned for the International break. Goals and assists will be the factors that leave indelible marks in the mind of the manager, as well as the fans.
The young Super Eagles of Nigeria will hope to soar high at next year’s World Cup, and Alex Iwobi will be one of those players shining in their flock of stars.