Tuesday, February 7, 2023

Iwobi emerges from Akpom’s shadow to make a name for himself

The careers of Alex Iwobi and Chuba Akpom have been interlinked from the very beginning. The pair, who are close friends, played together in a local team prior to joining Arsenal and both progressed through the ranks at the Hale End academy.

There was a buzz of excitement about both players, but for many years the majority of the focus was on Akpom. It was the forward who featured for the U18s first, who started for the U21s as a first-year scholar and who made his senior debut aged 17.

Prior to this season Akpom had nine Arsenal first-team appearances to his name while Iwobi had none. The latter has now featured 14 times for Arsene Wenger’s side and, against Everton last week, achieved something that Akpom is yet to do by scoring a first-team goal for the Gunners in a competitive fixture.

Both players are clearly talented and, having been brought up at the club, are excellent technically. One key difference at this stage, however, is that Iwobi appears rather less selfish on the ball than Akpom and is adept at bringing others into play.

Akpom has his qualities- he is powerful and capable of beating players with ease- but his finishing, especially in first-team football, is rather inconsistent. The striker is spending the season on loan at Hull City in the Championship but has only mustered seven goals in 35 appearances in all competitions, suggesting that there is room for improvement.

Iwobi is far from the finished article, either, but at present the Nigeria international appears more ready to feature in the Arsenal first-team. His intelligent link-up play has been in evidence in recent games, with the youngster fending off competition from the likes of Theo Walcott and Joel Campbell to start.

Iwobi hasn’t made it yet, and may well have to go out on loan himself at some stage in his development, but for now the youngster is closer to the first-team picture than Akpom is. In fact, Iwobi has benefited from not going out on loan this season as injuries and the disappointing form of others has provided him with an opportunity at Arsenal.

Now the onus is on Akpom to prove that he too is worthy of a place in the first-team and it would be satisfying if the two players, having started out playing together, eventually end up alongside eachother in the Arsenal first-team, albeit after taking different paths to get there.

At the moment, though, and this sentence would have sounded preposterous had it been written a year ago, it is Iwobi, rather than Akpom, who is closer to fulfilling his dream of succeeding at Arsenal.

Jeorge Bird is the author of  www.arsenalyouth.wordpress.com  Follow him on Twitter @jeorgebird

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Arsene-al fan

Iwobi is looking great. Would love Chuba to make it but don’t think he will.


With Akpom’s attitude and selfishness on the ball (only works if you’re Cristiano Ronaldo), I’ve actually feared for quite some time that he won’t break into the first team at Arsenal. His numbers at Hull (currently, and at other previous loan clubs) don’t suggest he’ll fare much better than a Sanchez Watt-type either. It’s sad for me to have to reach that conclusion; I still have high hopes for him, but realism.

Chuffed for Iwobi, of course. Long may his impressive run in the first team continue.


He has even debuted for Nigeria, I just hope Akpom will follow suite.

David C

I was hoping he’d choose England so we don’t lose him every African Cup! He looks a real talent with a good attitude.

Petits Handbag

If Akpom hadn’t gone on loan, chances are he would have got his chance too.


Doubt it.
No offence to Akpom, but Afobe was (and arguably still is) a better prospect and even he couldn’t make it.
Even worse for him are the guys behind; Madvidi is a big prospects, but of all three, it is Malen that is something special in all honesty.

Cape Town Gooner

To be fair Afobe had some serious injury issues with little time left on his contract. I see his failure to break through to be quite heavily impacted by that. He’s done bloody well to bounce back into the premier league.


Can you get a better picture please Blogs?
I meant to ask last time…


I think the reason why Iwobi and Welbeck seems to that natural understanding when playing together, which we have seen in the past few weeks is down to the fact that Welbeck has a similar playing style to Akpom. If that is truly the case Wenger will bring them (Akpom and Iwobi) together again for a super partnership that money cant buy.


I was watching the “worlds best players” thing on You Tube earlier….I can’t see where our next Henry or Bergkamp are…:-(


Maybe Mesut for the Dennis role but how many goals did Dennis knock in compared to Mesut! As for a replacement for Henry….none of our boys come close.

Cliff Bastin

They played in different systems. Bergkamp probably would have scored less if he had 3 forwards to feed. On the other hand if Ozil had Pires, Ljungberg and Henry……..

Easy Tiger

Aliadere – I still don’t understand how he failed to meet his potential

Yaya Binks

He’s been an absolute breath of fresh air every time he’s played for us this season. A very exciting young talent

Man Manny

Sending Iwobi on loan could end up being counter-productive…see Gnabry. Iwobi himself said last week about benefiting more from training with top-class players like Alexis, Ozil and others. He also has a manager who believes that if you are good enough, you are old enough…see Bellerin.
I see Iwobi staying with the first team next season. He is good enough to make the step playing with the first team.

Rohith J

Great to see a young player do this. Having seen the likes of Akpom and Gnabry fade a little, think it’s important to protect him. A loan next season sounds good.


They both seem to be really promising. I can see the positives in Akpom’s play. He will surely get better as the players around him at hull are at a lower level. The boy does have issues with arrogance that I am afraid, seem to be bordering beyond Niklas Bendtner’s. It would seem a pity if he did not make it just because of a perceived sense of entitlement. Iwobi seems to encompass confidence rather than arrogance. I like arrogant players like Ronaldo and Zlatan, but that arrogance is borne out of real achievement and the work they put in… Read more »


Crowley deserves a mention as well, especially looking at how Carzola brought immense balance to Arsenal midfield in that deep role.




Why bother loaning him out when he has room in the first team? And if he plays the way he plays now, he could surely be even better next season if he stays with the first team.

Ex-Priest Tobin

Could just be another Gnarby, hard to get too excited about these young players.




Obi van Iwobi.
Exciting times.

Naija Gunner

Beats me too, why do we have to loan him if he’s doing well with the first team?
He was superb yesterday for Nigeria, he was so confident and composed on the ball. I was moved with the sublime super pass to Victor Mosses through on goal for our second, rounded the keeper but one idiot from Egipt cleared the ball off the line…Damn it was painfull

Bob Davis

Iwobi has shown his class and I think he’s got a great future. Akpom needs to go on loan and get some solid experience. Looking forward to seeing Iwobi score against Watford.


Elneny played that game too. Lots of running around from him, a couple of tidy passes and one speculative shot from distance. He really is making that a habit.

Winnipeg Gunner

While each player is different, comparing Iwobi and Akpom makes me wonder if rushing youth players into first team football stunts their development somewhat. Perhaps Iwobi’s gradual emergence among top team players is better. Other young players, like Gibbs, Chambers, and Bellerin seem to have benefitted from sticking around and taking the opportunities when they arise.


The way Iwobi’s game is(technically brilliant, intelligent etc)..I hardly think Arsene would let him go out on loan anytime in the future.. I would rather see him play and sell off Walcott

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