African All Stars

Should Super Eagles retain their trust in Iwobi?

10:50 AM GMT 08/12/2021
Alex Iwobi of Everton
The midfielder is a player who divides opinion across Nigerian fans for a number of reasons

Alex Iwobi is yet to grab an opportunity on the big stage as he faded out of the team at Arsenal and remains on the periphery of things in his third season on Merseyside with Everton.

The midfielder has characteristically underperformed alongside many of Rafa Benitez’s players during a devastating injury crisis to several of their key players. His versatility also sometimes exacerbates a chance to make a spot undeniably his.

The 25-year-old scored his one Premier League goal this season against Wolves which proved to be the club’s Goal of The Month due to the mere fact it was the only one scored in November.

Iwobi missed a gilt-edged opportunity in a cameo appearance against his former club which would have represented a huge psychological relief, as Everton ended their eight-game winless run against the Gunners.

The ex-Gunners man has relatively struggled for consistency this term, having managed only six starts in the Premier League this season. Out of those starts, he has only managed to remain on the pitch up until the 80th minute twice.

In Everton’s most recent outing against Arsenal, Iwobi managed only three minutes of action, having come off the bench in the 87th minute.

His struggles for game time and consistency come at a time where his form will be taken into account, as the African Cup of Nations draws nearer.

A host of Nigerian stars are making a case to play regular football with the Super Eagles and it now remains to be seen if Iwobi can hold his own against the lot.

Can Iwobi remain the Super Eagles chief creator under Rohr?

While Iwobi has failed to impress in midfield, Joe Aribo is answering all the questions asked of a midfielder.

In contrast, the impressive form of the Rangers man this season has been elevated by the takeover of Giovanni van Bronckhorst as manager. Aribo is being trusted as the team’s furthermost midfielder and has repaid the faith as the club’s highest-scoring midfielder.

The 25-year-old has netted five goals alongside two assists in 16 league games and is making a case as a proficient attacking midfielder.

The former Charlton man has been utilized as a central midfielder for the latter part of his international career and the discipline required in a midfield pivot beside Wilfred Ndidi has curtailed most of his attacking instincts.

Aribo naturally loves to bomb forward and arrive late in the box to effect attacking moves as evidenced by his Frank Lampard-esque goals in his first two caps for Nigeria.

It is becoming apparent that Aribo deserves a chance at the minutes Iwobi is getting as the Super Eagles’ attacking midfielder.

Indeed, the final decision will go to whoever sits in the dugout in Nigeria’s opening game at Afcon 2021. But as it is, Aribo’s performances speak for themselves.