Arsène Wenger’s greatest strength has decayed into a glaring weakness.
The Frenchman has always invested diligently in potential and the first half of his tenure at Arsenal was rewarded with the emergence of talents like Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry.
Over the past decade, however, the production line has spluttered.
Theo Walcott failed too many auditions, whilst Kieran Gibbs never looked convincing despite being given copious opportunities. Even Jack Wilshere can't decide if he wants to be a first-teamer in Islington.
Judging from the evidence to date, Alex Iwobi looks set to be another disappointment.
Since being granted a senior debut in 2015, the Nigerian has flitted between displays of genuine class and timorous immaturity.
His latest debacle arrived against West Ham on Sunday. In a game which typified Arsenal’s malaise, he struggled to penetrate one of the league’s most sodden defences.
Iwobi was Arsenal’s frustrator in chief, turning scrupulously into blind alleys before firing indiscriminate deliveries to nobody in particular.
It was a performance that most managers would struggle to accept. When Wenger finally substituted the 21-year-old in the second half, his side were instantly better.
Iwobi's replacement, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, provided a second assist for Alexandre Lacazette in as many games.
Blunt and hapless
Iwobi should have taken to the field on Sunday bubbling with a desire to impress the men comprising Ivan Gazidis' managerial shortlist.
Instead, he summed up everything about his club’s failed policies on recruitment and development, with a blunt and hapless hour.
Writing Iwobi off because of one game might seem silly.
When considering his statistics since his breakthrough three years ago, however, there is precious little to suggest that he is a credible attacking force. 8 goals and 11 assists in 76 appearances might be acceptable for a side in mid-table but a club with pretensions of a return to the Champions League should look for a more able replacement.
If Iwobi performs at the forthcoming World Cup, his transfer fee would rise commensurately. Based on his displays in an Arsenal shirt thus far, there seems very little reason to keep him.
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