Wenger admits his surprise over Iwobi's first-team impact

Arséne Wenger has publicly admitted his surprise over how quickly Alex Iwobi has settled into the Arsenal first-team, following his step-up from youth level at the start of the campaign.

Wenger admits his surprise over Iwobi's first-team impact
Picture source: Getty Images

Iwobi taken critics by surprise

Having made his first-team debut in a short cameo appearance away against Swansea back in October, it was evident that big things were planned for Alex Iwobi's development. The highly-rated young Nigerian, 19, has emerged as an important player for the Gunners in recent weeks - scoring his first goal at senior level during their 2-0 away win over Everton at Goodison Park prior to the international break.

Netting his second in successive fixtures against Watford yesterday, the pacey forward was given a standing ovation from all corners of the Emirates after being replaced by Theo Walcott in the latter stages - and he was voted the Man of the Match award after full-time.

Wenger's praise for talented youngster

Speaking to Arsenal Player after the convincing victory, Wenger said that the fans "know straight away" when they spot a player "has something special, so they acknowledge that."

"You cannot cheat people. They've seen how quickly Alex's improved and how well he's played."

The experienced Frenchman admitted it's "surprising" to see just how quickly he's managed to integrate his presence within the first-team set-up, even with limited minutes under his belt in recent months. Having worked alongside the first-team players since the start of the campaign - after flourishing in their pre-season Emirates Cup tournament - he's "grown confidence" and consequently "had an impact straight away." 

"That's benefited from the fact that he knows everybody and they trust him as well. I didn't expect that level of efficiency or impact on the scoresheet."

Having made his senior bow for his native Nigeria in the most recent international break, Alex continues to mature as a talented youngster who is genuinely enjoying his football - and used the FA Cup competition as a platform to assert his first-team credentials following the turn of the year. His link-up play with Danny Welbeck and Alexis Sánchez in recent weeks has been a joy to watch, his fluid movement and attacking intelligence is something that Gunners supporters continue to watch with keen interest as well as understandable excitement - his quality is obvious.