Sunday salutations. The draw for the fifth round of the FA Cup was made a little earlier and we’ve been handed another home tie, after being paired with Hull City for the third year running.
After beating them in the final in 2014, we faced them in last year’s third round and emerged 2-0 victors at Emirates stadium thanks to goals by Per Mertesacker and Alexis Sanchez, so perhaps Steve Bruce’s men can prove our lucky charm as we aim to make it a hat-trick of consecutive Cup wins.
Two of our young stars, Chuba Akpom and Isaac Hayden, are of course on-loan from Arsenal at the Tigers, so it will be interesting to see if we grant Hull permission to play them against us. Personally, I’d say hell no, because you know, I want them to have fewer personnel options against us and rule out a Lomana LuaLua scenario, where a player scores against his parent club. But that’s just me – Arsene Wenger may well feel very differently. We’ll see.
Speaking of the boss, he’s been praising Alex Iwobi, after the teenager put in another very impressive display as a central midfielder against Burnley yesterday. Arsene said:
I think he has shown everybody that he is a good player again. I personally find him very interesting because of his decision making, his awareness is very interesting. He is a boy who, two years ago, not many would have said he [will make it]. You see he develops very well because he’s very clever. I like his game, I like the timing of his decision making and the quality of his decision making. He always turns where you want him to turn and he plays the ball where you want him to play the ball. He’s very interesting. He can play on the left, he can play on the right, he can play behind the striker and he can even play as a No 9, because he scores goals in training.
As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve been as impressed with Iwobi as the boss and every other Arsenal fan. Where I think he has an edge on the likes of Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, especially the former, is that he’s more reliable in keeping possession and making the right pass at the right time, as the boss highlights above. He’s similar to Joel Campbell in that sense and also works as hard as the Costa Rican going both ways.
I think it was telling then, that the Ox was positioned on the right and Iwobi preferred in the middle against Burnley, because despite being a fan myself of the former Southampton man playing centrally in the past, the truth is he gives the ball away far too frequently when he has played there. So if Chamberlain would prefer to carve out an Arsenal career in the middle, that’s something he’ll have to improve significantly in my opinion, as will Aaron Ramsey if I’m honest.
As for Walcott, I think it’s pretty clear that he can be lethal up front, but looks pretty useless out wide more often than not. All of which is to say that if Iwobi can continue playing well when given an opportunity centrally, with Santi Cazorla and Jack Wilshere out injured, he has a great opportunity between now and the end of the season to prove himself as a genuine starting candidate in the middle moving forward.
Right, that was a very brief one today but it’s Sunday, the Milan derby kicks off soon and it won’t watch itself.
See you on Transfer Deadline Day.