IOWA

Iwobi. Ozil. Welbeck. Alexis. The formula that has breathed some life into our football once more. The acronym funnily comes from the autocorrect when trying to type Iwobi (credit @arseblog). It’s something that works. Alexis looks like he has time on the ball again, Ozil has more than the one option and with Welbeck we have some really good lateral movement leading the line. These three traits are ones we fully expect of the aforementioned players, however the real surprise package of the quartet is Alex Iwobi. He got a start against Barcelona and has had some sporadic game time before then and looked decent in those games. However this was the first time that he was called upon in a game where the pressure was well and truly on. Some real trust shown to him by the manager and it’s part accident, part great management. The thinking at the start of this season, from the fan base at least, was that we might see a bit more of The Jeff than of Alex Iwobi but Le Boss has entrusted a young man who has clearly excelled in training as well as when given minutes on the pitch.

He really showed as though he belonged in the team and belonged in the football match. It also gave Alexis the opportunity to start on the right hand side and rid the cobwebs that
haven’t quite dissipated since his return. He hasn’t played there much, if at all this season so their left hand side will not have prepared for with real veracity. It gave him the freedom to find his range again and it really did free him up to combine well with Ozil, Welbeck and Iwobi. With Iwobi in the team we have also found someone who is creative as well as powerful. It mitigates some of the responsibility from Ozil and gives the opposition a surprise/something else to think about. It used to be Santi who helped Ozil out with this side of the game but in Iwobi it’s coming from a different position. Similar can be said of Joel Campbell but from the little I’ve seen from Iwobi, it looks as though he is more comfortable with the ball at his feet, especially in tight situations. He’s also a little stronger by the looks, hence his inclusion ahead of Campbell I would guess. Considering our midweek exploits where Barcelona made us run around a fair bit we started the game on the front foot and looked as though we meant business. It was refreshing to see this approach but it was only allowed to be this was simply due the balance of the team rather than any one of the XI simply having a good day. The Coq-Neny axis is providing a great foundation and protection for the front four to flourish. Elneny gets through some serious yards and looks a brilliant find. He covered an incredible 12.83kms during the 90 minutes and was still bursting all over the pitch in the last 10 minutes so he looks to have quite the engine and has helped to keep a bit more cover in front of the back four.

Our first goal was a joy to behold and really made me fall in love with football all over again. It’s been a while since we’ve clicked as such and it was brilliant to see us shift into gear so early on in the game. A lovely combination between Bellerin, Alexis, Ozil and then Welbeck to round off was truly Wengerball at its very best. The second came from a good counter attack where Iwobi won the ball back and the counter attack was on. Bellerin played a good ball down the right channel and Iwobi ran onto it. Two touches later were followed with a great finish, when a younger player could have opted for the easy route and looked to pass across goal. Iwobi ran directly at goal and had one thing on his mind. It was the right decision and for a 19 year old to get that right is a good sign. What followed was some great football from us and not much threat from Everton. They gave the ball away far too much to gain a foothold in the game (not that I give a monkeys!). Iwobi had another chance to put us 3-0 up in a situation where the right thing to do would have been to look for the pass across goal but a shot was his decision, based on the fact that he had scored earlier I would imagine. The second half was quite dull really, we could have added one or two more and Everton had one real chance of note with a Jagielka header. We saw out a 2-0 win, away from home and a tough ground. A brilliant start to the weekend.

What followed in the fixtures after our one was not too unexpected. A part of me hoped that Palace would get a result at home vs Leicester, however that was bordering on the over optimistic. When you win a game though, you do feel that everything will go your way! Leicester ground out a 1-0 win away with Delaney hitting the bar for Palace late on. If anything we’ve gained a goal in the goal difference and goals scored columns on the leaders. Chelsea also drew with the Hammers and so increased our gap to 5 points that way and Man City contrived to lose 1-0 at home to Man Utd, keeping them both 4 & 5 points behind us respectively. Sp*rs were winners vs Bournemouth, which was no surprise so we had a decent if not spectacular weekend of results. Before the weekend most people saw us
drawing the game vs Everton, Leicester winning, Sp*rs winning & City winning so 2/4 going our way isn’t too bad at all. It will get very interesting from here on in. The fixtures come thick and fast and our next two games will be pivotal if we are to claw our way back into this race. We play Watford at home and West Ham Away, whilst Sp*rs play Liverpool away (fresh from a stunning comeback by Southampton, so will want to make amends) and Man Utd at home (who the hell knows which Utd will turn up) in two quite tricky games. Leicester meanwhile play Southampton at home and Sunderland away, who are both teams that are tricky to break down. The next couple of weeks could be pivotal and as much as we need to hope for slip ups above us, we need to ensure that we are piling as much pressure on as possible from below. That comes by winning football matches and revenge against Watford & West Ham will be the only way to go ahead and create that pressure. In the next two Premier League weekends that follow we also play before all of Leicester, Sp*rs and Man City, which seems to be a situation that suits us as we can’t seem to handle the pressure at the moment. Hopefully we can get the next win and turn up the heat on the others.

Another thing that has been in the air over the last couple of weeks is the infighting, the banners and a general glumness around the club. It didn’t take long for the banner to come back again and I completely understand the need to vent against a manager that you may not agree with. I do think however that this sort of thing in no way helps the team. All fans do it and it does make a difference to what happens I feel, in terms of removing a manager of the voices are universally loud enough, but I’m not convinced in any way that this will help us secure result after result in the next 8 games. We still have a slight chance at the league and if we are to miraculously pull it off it feels like we all need to be pulling in the same direction. In my view if there is failure at the end of the season, the last game vs Villa is an ample opportunity to display that (if at all!). Until that point why not get behind the team and manager? Not that anyone will hear that message but just my humble opinion. Anyway…

Finally we’ve had a win. Finally we’ve started to play some good football. Finally we have a balanced midfield. I’m just in constant prayer that this isn’t too little too late.

Have a great week folks.

Follow me on Twitter @MiteshLakhani1

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