If any Arsenal supporters hadn’t previously heard of Alex Iwobi, his name would have been difficult to avoid this morning after the youngster’s hat-trick for the U21s against Stoke City served to enhance his reputation.
It wasn’t just the fact that Iwobi scored a hat-trick, but the manner in which he took all three of his goals was hugely impressive and lent credence to the claim that, despite being deployed mainly on the flanks during his formative years at the club, the 18-year-old could have a future as a central striker.
Following last night’s events, Iwobi now has six goals in 12 U21 games this season, which is a marked improvement on the previous campaign, when he failed to score in 11 appearances at that level.
A quick and skilful player, thoughts will now turn towards Iwobi’s future and, ultimately, his chances of making the grade in the long term at Arsenal. The latter question isn’t easily answerable, but we should have a much clearer picture of events once Iwobi embarks on his first loan spell, perhaps with a League One side, which will probably take place at some point next season.
Before then Iwobi will be seeking to continue his excellent form at U21 level. Chuba Akpom’s loan departure to Nottingham Forest has seen Iwobi ushered into a centre forward position and he has relished the chance that he has been given.
Iwobi could also make his first-team debut in the near future. The Hale End product has previously made the bench for the senior side in the Champions League and the Capital One Cup and has trained regularly with Arsene Wenger’s squad this campaign, which perhaps provides an explanation for why he was so at ease when playing with a selection of first-team players last night.
Having seen the likes of Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Stefan O’Connor feature, albeit fleetingly, for the first-team, Iwobi will look to follow suit as soon as possible and, if he continues to perform like he did last night, he won’t have to wait too long for his opportunity.