Rising star Iwobi

first_imgMANCHESTER, England (AP):There’s growing competition for discovery of the season in the English Premier League.Leading the way are N’Golo Kante, the box-to-box French midfielder propelling Leicester to an unlikely title triumph; Dele Alli, the Tottenham playmaker plucked from England’s third tier; and Marcus Rashford, Manchester United’s 18-year-old striker who seems born for the big time.Time to add Arsenal winger Alex Iwobi to the list.Iwobi, like Rashford, is a shy yet fearless teenager who has burst onto centre stage in the world’s most popular league in recent weeks. Arsenal’s all-star midfield is a tough department to break into, yet Iwobi has achieved it seemingly out of nowhere.He has started four of Arsenal’s last five matches, including a Champions League game away to the mighty Barcelona. He has scored and been named man of the match in the last two appearances, against Everton and Watford in the Premier League.Theo Walcott is in desperate need of game time to retain his place in England’s squad for the European Championship, but is currently playing second fiddle to Iwobi on the right wing.He may have to get used to it.Iwobi, 19, is the nephew of Nigeria great Jay-Jay Okocha and has been at Arsenal since the age of eight, having grown up in London. He is a powerful, hard-working, technically gifted attacker with an eye for goal just as Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger likes it.BIG HITIwobi, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez as the three floating forwards behind the main striker? It’s some prospect and already proving a big hit.”He is an intelligent boy who loves football, very passionate about the game, keen to learn, very humble as well,” Wenger has said of Iwobi.”It’s surprising how quickly he’s integrated into our game.”Iwobi’s accomplished display at the Camp Nou really made people sit up and take note of a player who didn’t start a game in the first half of the season. During the recent international break, Iwobi made his debut for Nigeria in a loss to Egypt – stamping his allegiance to the African country having played for England’s youth teams up to under-18 level.A call-up to Nigeria’s squad for the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in August is in the offing – but first he might just be Arsenal’s secret weapon as the team looks to secure a 19th straight season of Champions League football.Impressive wins over Everton and Watford have consolidated third place with seven games left, and even kept Arsenal with an outside shot at the title. That, however, would require an implosion by surprise leaders Leicester, who are seven clear of second-place Tottenham and 11 ahead of Arsenal, who have a game in hand.Arsenal visit West Ham tomorrow while Leicester travel to relegation-threatened Sunderland and Tottenham host Manchester United.TITLE IN SIGHTLeicester are grinding out the wins as they close in on arguably the most stunning title success in English football history, having picked up four straight 1-0 victories ahead of the trip to Sunderland.Sunderland are proving tough to beat of late, drawing their last four games, but have slipped four points from safety. Sunderland might be in more desperate need of the points at the Stadium of Light.last_img read more

Macron cheers from the stands — then ‘dabs’ in the changing room

first_imgAfter the final whistle, Macron found himself on the pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium without an umbrella during a fierce downpour that started during the trophy presentation — unlike Putin who was sheltered by an aide.“MERCI” he wrote in a one-word tweet after the match, which gave France its second World Cup victory and sparked euphoric street parties across the country.Widely shared footage posted on Twitter later showed him with French defender Benjamin Mendy and star midfielder Paul Pogba in the changing room attempting to “dab” — a craze thought to have been started by Atlanta rappers.“Mr President, what’s the new move nowadays?” Mendy says to Macron, “The dab!” he adds, as Macron obliges with two attempts at the movement popularised by American football player Cam Newton.Macron, who used to play left-back in university football teams, had met the squad before they left for the competition, urging them to return home with the famous golden World Cup trophy.He will welcome them at the presidential palace in Paris on Monday when the victorious players return home and the former investment banker will be hoping some of the feelgood factor rubs off on him.Former President Jacques Chirac benefitted from a leap in his ratings in 1998 when France won its first World Cup despite not knowing many of the player’s names.Macron, who has pushed through a series of pro-business reforms since his election in May last year, has seen his ratings slide again recently following criticism that he is out-of-touch and elitist.A recent poll by the Odoxa group found that 75 percent of respondents judged him “not close to the people.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000President Emmanuel Macron celebrates despite pouring rain as the France team are presented with the World Cup © AFP / FRANCK FIFEMOSCOW, Russian Federation, Jul 15 – President Emmanuel Macron was pictured cheering from the stadium, got drenched in the rain on the pitch, then attempted to “dab” with the players in the changing room Sunday after France’s victory in the World Cup.The football-loving 40-year-old leapt to his feet to celebrate France’s goals as he attended the game in Moscow alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Croatian counterpart Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.last_img read more