Sir Alex Ferguson has said that Arsenal are a tougher side now, and has reserved praise for starlet Alex Iwobi
The ex-United Manager has been talking about the title race to German magazine Kicker, according to The Metro, and he has run the rule over the current Arsenal squad.
Ferguson and Arsene Wenger had a bitter rivalry at the time, but their relationship mellowed over the years and the two are now admittedly friends.
Arsene Wenger himself is in his 20th season with Arsenal, and Ferguson believes his current squad is much more sturdy than it has been in recent years :
‘You shouldn’t forget Arsenal [in the title race],’ Ferguson told Kicker. ‘The team is more sturdy. They’ve got better and more aggressive.’
Ferguson, in the past, has spoken about how Arsenal teams shy away from physical battles, but clearly he feels that the squad Wenger has currently built has a lot more grit and fight in them. He also reserved special praise for Nigerian starlet Alex Iwobi, who only made his first-team debut last season, simply saying :
‘I’m impressed with the young boy Alex Iwobi.’
The statement might be a very basic one, but when the Manchester United legend praises a youngster, no matter how mildly, it usually means that he thinks very highly of them.
Iwobi has easily slotted into the first team, and not many people, who don’t have knowledge behind the scenes, really saw that happening. He is now an automatic first-teamer when fit, and was even nominated for the prestigious Golden Boy award this year, losing out to Bayern Munich’s Renato Sanches.
Ferguson’s claim that Arsenal are more sturdy and aggressive is not without merit either. The Gunners have been excellent this season apart from their opening day defeat to Liverpool, and a lot of this is down to their renewed work ethic when pressing high up the pitch.
Theo Walcott has already made more tackles than he did in the entirety of last season, and he is not the only one defending more aggressively from the front.
Add to that the signings of Mustafi – who has been excellent alongside Koscielny – and Xhaka – who provides steel in midfield but has some disciplinary issues – and the Gunners do indeed look like a much more sturdy side this season.
Whether they can actually win the title or not remains to be seen, but they must definitely be considered realistic contenders this season.