'Attacking development key to success'

By Jordan James Davies
After a shaky start to the season, we have found our feet in both the Premier League and the Champions League, producing some scintillating performances that show all the signs of producing a season to remember in manager Arsene Wenger's 20th year in charge.

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This first appeared on 90min


While some may suggest that the summer signing of Shkodran Mustafi to solidify the back four is a crucial factor in the Gunners currently enjoying a nine-game unbeaten streak in all competitions, few can argue that it's at the other end where we are showing real title-winning abilities.
From the emergence of young star Alex Iwobi out on the flanks, to the resurgence of a now-confident Theo Walcott, who appears to finally be injury free and scoring consistently, the Gunners have developed an attacking force that should threaten any team in Europe this season.
These are not just individual talents, however, as all of Arsene's attacking options have influenced and benefitted each other with their style of play, and look to keep getting better and better.
At 20 years old, Alex Iwobi already looks to be the finished product in terms of his ability to both create and finish in the attacking third, while his desire to work down the flanks on both the counter and in defence is admirable for a man of his tender age. Despite rumours of big money signings like Riyad Mahrez joining the club in the summer and potentially taking his place, the young Nigerian has shown just what he can bring to this side.
It's not just his technical talents that have seen him emerge as the league's most threatening winger, however. The swagger of the young kid strolling on the ball and gliding around players with ease gives off glimpses of a young Thierry Henry, while his selfishness when cutting inside and trying his luck against the likes of Barcelona at the Nou Camp is refreshing and lovely to watch.

Alex Iwobi evades a challenge in the Champions League meeting with FC Basel

Alex Iwobi evades a challenge in the Champions League meeting with FC Basel

This confidence has arisen from playing alongside players who now have the same mindset, such as the 'scoring for fun' side of Walcott that has made him irresistible to watch recently.
The 27-year-old appears to have finally started to believe just what a great player he can be should he utilise his ability, which was most recently made evident in the club's 2-0 win over FC Basel in the Champions League at the Emirates. His second goal summed up what he can do - getting in behind the defence with his scary pace and slotting home with an assured finish.
Five goals in eight appearances throughout all competitions echoes the form of a man who has been reassured of his position in the side by the manager, and given the freedom to roam across that attacking front three, rather than burden him with responsibility up top. We are finally getting the best out of Theo Walcott.
One of the reasons for this is the role of Alexis in the side. In contrast to Walcott, the little Chilean appears to be thriving in that solo role up front, using his Suarez-like tenacity to press from the front and terrorise back fours. This was seen perfectly in his opening goal in Arsenal's 3-0 thumping of Chelsea at home earlier this season.
The creativity of Alexis is vital too. With the likes of Iwobi and Walcott able to run in behind, the space he has to play with and the areas he can now operate in means that there's no lack of options - whether that be to combine with the wide men to stretch the defence, or to use his running style to attack spaces that perhaps the likes of Olivier Giroud would struggle to take advantage of.
The Frenchman will find it hard to just walk back into the starting XI and if Alexis, Walcott and Iwobi continue to thrive, Wenger will have some tough choices to make regarding the utilisation of Giroud. Not just in terms of whether he can have the same impact on the game, but also on the players around him.
We must not forget the influence of Mesut Ozil though, who has the ability to set loose the Gunners' attacking threats with such accuracy and speed, while the option of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from the bench and the return of a fully fit Aaron Ramsey will add further dimensions to an already overflowing array of talent in attack.
Arsene Wenger's summer signings have certainly added strength to areas that needed seeing to, however it appears that the development of the current crop is paying dividends for Arsenal's sensational start to the 2016/17 campaign.




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