So Joe Aribo’s big debut after his much-hyped transfer has now taken place. Naturally it was against Oxford of League One so the level might not be spectacular, but it most be borne in mind that’s the level Aribo faced all last season – so it was certainly familiar to him.
How did the £250,000 signing actually do?
In a central midfield position, it was observed he resembled in physique, style, and tactics, a taller more robust Ovie Ejaria.
He had that same physical strength on the ball, with a languid yet rugged composure, where no one was getting the ball from him – this boy is a unit, and uses his physique well to protect the ball while using it reliably and distributing it tightly.
He was sold to us as an attacking box to box midfielder, and we certainly saw his willingness to track back and roll his sleeves up.
He did, however, lack energy – arguably Greg Docherty, his direct competitor for the AM jersey, showed him a much more feisty display, with tonnes of running and productive dribbling, plus a near goal or two. Aribo, while strong and able on the ball, by comparison, wasn’t exciting with it – he advanced plenty, but did so at a considered pace without necessarily busting a gut.
When in and around the box, Aribo’s general pattern was solid link play, with some occasional end product – a few attempts at playmaking missed their mark, and his first half attempt on goal was rushed and weak.
But he looked like a composed and solid midfielder – while some compared him to Ejaria, we saw him as more of a Patrick Vieira type – Vieira was known to occasionally making stamping marauding runs forward like a bull, and Aribo produced a couple of these too. Never at throbbing pace, but always powerful.
And yet, we feel and certainly hope he has a lot more to give. This was only his debut, yes, and he’s had very little time to gel with his new team mates, unlike the rest of the signings who started this one, so we’d imagine given time he’ll start to really motor his way into familiarity with the team.
Joe Aribo gave a glimmer of his overall package yesterday – it was by no means miraculous but as he gets up to tune this 22-year old will hopefully deliver on the promise.
He clearly has the tools, it’s just whether he gels with the team and the league that we await on.