Rising star Iwobi

first_imgMANCHESTER, England (AP):There’s growing competition for discovery of the season in the English Premier League.Leading the way are N’Golo Kante, the box-to-box French midfielder propelling Leicester to an unlikely title triumph; Dele Alli, the Tottenham playmaker plucked from England’s third tier; and Marcus Rashford, Manchester United’s 18-year-old striker who seems born for the big time.Time to add Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi to the list.Iwobi, like Rashford, is a shy yet fearless teenager who has burst onto centre stage in the world’s most popular league in recent weeks. Arsenal’s all-star midfield is a tough department to break into, yet Iwobi has achieved it seemingly out of nowhere.He has started four of Arsenal’s last five matches, including a Champions League game away to the mighty Barcelona. He has scored and been named man of the match in the last two appearances, against Everton and Watford in the Premier League.Theo Walcott is in desperate need of game time to retain his place in England’s squad for the European Championship, but is currently playing second fiddle to Iwobi on the right wing.He may have to get used to it.Iwobi, 19, is the nephew of Nigeria great Jay-Jay Okocha and has been at Arsenal since the age of eight, having grown up in London. He is a powerful, hard-working, technically gifted attacker with an eye for goal just as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger likes it.BIG HITIwobi, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez as the three floating forwards behind the main striker? It’s some prospect and already proving a big hit.”He is an intelligent boy who loves football, very passionate about the game, keen to learn, very humble as well,” Wenger has said of Iwobi.”It’s surprising how quickly he’s integrated into our game.”Iwobi’s accomplished display at the Camp Nou really made people sit up and take note of a player who didn’t start a game in the first half of the season. During the recent international break, Iwobi made his debut for Nigeria in a loss to Egypt – stamping his allegiance to the African country having played for England’s youth teams up to under-18 level.A call-up to Nigeria’s squad for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August is in the offing – but first he might just be Arsenal’s secret weapon as the team looks to secure a 19th straight season of Champions League football.Impressive wins over Everton and Watford have consolidated third place with seven games left, and even kept Arsenal with an outside shot at the title. That, however, would require an implosion by surprise leaders Leicester, who are seven clear of second-place Tottenham and 11 ahead of Arsenal, who have a game in hand.Arsenal visit West Ham tomorrow while Leicester travel to relegation-threatened Sunderland and Tottenham host Manchester United.TITLE IN SIGHTLeicester are grinding out the wins as they close in on arguably the most stunning title success in English football history, having picked up four straight 1-0 victories ahead of the trip to Sunderland.Sunderland are proving tough to beat of late, drawing their last four games, but have slipped four points from safety. Sunderland might be in more desperate need of the points at the Stadium of Light.last_img read more

admin

Cardiff City 0-0 Bristol City: Severnside derby ends in stalemate in Wales

first_img Alex Revell The Severnside derby failed to spring to life as Cardiff and Bristol City played out a goalless draw in the Welsh capital.Elliot Bennett could have snatched it at the death for the visitors but his shot hit the woodwork, while Sammy Ameobi somehow fired wide from close in in injury time for Cardiff.The result leaves the Robins hovering over the Sky Bet Championship relegation zone, while the point puts Cardiff three points off the play-off places, but they will be left disappointed after spurning a host of chances.The Bluebirds controlled possession in the opening quarter, but it was the side from the over the bridge who had the best opportunities to break the deadlock.Home left-back Fabio was left exposed by wide midfielder Peter Whittingham which gave Bennett the freedom to flash menacing crosses across goal – but neither Aaron Wilbraham nor Luke Ayling could convert from close range.And the Robins lost one of their aerial threats to a hamstring injury after 24 minutes.Defender Nathan Baker was limping before he ignored a pass out from goalkeeper Frank Fielding and allowed Craig Noone a run and shot on goal which, luckily for Baker, was blocked. He was replaced by Joe Bryan.Whittingham played a neat one-two with Lee Peltier to find a pocket of space behind the Bristol back-three and deliver a teasing cross to the back post.Fielding made a mess of it and conceded a corner which was headed inches wide by Matt Connolly.But it was Steve Cotterill’s side who had the best chance to go in front just before half-time.Jonathan Kodjia came out with the ball from defence after a wasted Cardiff chance and fed the lively Bennett before continuing his run.He was found by an inch-perfect Bennett cross into the area but goalkeeper David Marshall reacted quickly to tip the ball over.Joe Mason had two chances to give Cardiff the lead in as many minutes after the break as the hosts came out firing.First he got his head to a looping Peltier cross but glanced wide, before Alex Revell found him with a low cross that he could only fire over the crossbar.Kagisho Dikgacoi was the next to get his head to a Whittingham cross but his weak effort allowed Bristol City to break and resulted in Aron Gunnarson picking up a yellow card.The Robins thought they had stolen the three points with 10 minutes remaining after Bryan stabbed a shot against a post and Kodjia poked the ball home, but the striker was offside.There was still time for late drama when Marshall pushed Bryan’s driven shot into the path of Bennett and he cracked the upright with a right-footed effort, while at the other end, Ameobi, who looked to be in an offside position, somehow missed from four yards. 1last_img read more

admin