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Why Wenger needs to rest this Gunner

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Over the past few weeks, Alex Iwobi has, to me, struggled to perform to the expectations he set when he first burst on to the scene.

The 20-year-old emerged as one of Arsenal’s rising stars last season and made a huge impact for the Gunners. So much so, that Iwobi has cemented his pace in Arsene Wenger’s first team plans, and has started regularly this campaign, keeping the likes of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on the bench.

His trickery, speed, movement and fearlessness is what has drawn the Emirates faithful to him, with many suggesting the Nigerian winger has a bright future ahead of him, and indeed he does.

However, in the past several games, the youngster seems to have lost his spark a little and has dropped down a few gears.

The north London derby, for me, showed me that Iwobi still has a lot to learn and perhaps isn’t quite as ready as many believe him to be. It’s a massive game against your fiercest local rivals, yet Wenger opted start him over a more experienced head. The Nigeria international was clearly overwhelmed by the atmosphere and the magnitude of the game, and it certainly raised questions about the youngster’s involvement in the bigger games of the season.

Last night against Paris Saint-Germain was no different. Another big game and Iwobi looked out of his depth once again. He didn’t really get involved and struggled to create or influence the game. I know he deflected Lucas Moura’s header in, but that was just unlucky, and in fairness, David Ospina should have called for it. Nonetheless, Iwobi was subbed and it was visibly clear that he was upset. Not at being subbed, but by his performance and his own goal. Perhaps Wenger knew that the past couple of games has taken its toll on Alex.

Now I know will probably say ‘well what about our other big-name players like Mesut Ozil, he didn’t show up?’. Yes, he didn’t. In fact, that was an awful outing for the German. But he did put Alexis Sanchez through with a reverse pass which ended up Arsenal getting a penalty. He had an influence, even for just that moment. Iwobi hasn’t in a while.

I’m not saying that Wenger should get rid of Iwobi or send him back to the reserve side – he is still a very good first-team player. All I’m saying is that perhaps the Nigerian is in need of a rest just to recharge the batteries and evaluate things further.

At the end of the day, he is only 20-years-old and, personally, should be embedded into these big games slowly rather than just be tossed in.

Bournemouth next in the Premier League at home would be a good game for him to get that rest, especially with the upcoming hectic Christmas schedule around the corner.

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