It’s early days under Unai Emery but one player that appears to be benefiting from the managerial shift is Alex Iwobi. The Nigerian has impressed in limited playing time thus far this season.
Fans really took notice after Iwobi’s performance in Arsenal’s 4-2 Europa League victory over Vorskla Poltava. He was a dominant presence on the left wing and helped control the pace of the match. He also assisted on the Gunners’ opening goal with a perfect pass that found Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the box. Iwobi came off to a standing ovation in the 70th minute.
It wasn’t always this way for Iwobi. Last season he was lambasted endlessly by fans who wanted him gone. Every mistake or missed scoring opportunity led to further scorn for the winger.
Here’s an example of what fans were saying about Iwobi then:
Iwobi stinks soooooo much, he needs the green jersey back— iz all ova jackie (@donfreecs_) December 22, 2017
Iwobi in an Arsenal shirt stinks— Les Owens (@GoodKidManCity) December 22, 2017
Iwobi Absoloutley Stinks— Tommy Smith (@TommySmith1992) January 10, 2018
Iwobi trying his hardest to stink up a good Arsenal performance.— Ashley Darkwood (@AshleyDarkwood) March 11, 2018
Some have speculated that Iwobi is benefiting from the new manager’s training methods. In a recent interview he said:
It’s exciting times to be fair, Everybody’s enjoying and buying into the new ideas. He demands a lot. He’s a lot more intense, a lot of high pressing and keeping the ball so that it benefits us if we have the ball. It’s good for us, especially the attackers who like to have the ball a lot.
The other thing that people seem to be overlooking is the fact that Iwobi just turned 22. He’s been around so long that it’s easy to forget how young he still is. Potential and youth are a powerful combination.
Here’s a sampling of what fans are now saying about Iwobi:
Iwobi shown some sort of maturity this season. Simply our best player this morning. Been a Gooner since young age. Would love to see more of this guy #COYG— danial (@danfhai) September 21, 2018
If Iwobi keeps playing like this then there is no excuse for him not to start. Motm today and in that game against Chelsea and he’s barely seen playing time— Abdurrahman (@abrmohamoud) September 21, 2018
Iwobi has to start now Emery got him playing like ribery https://t.co/iiGe7dc5vO— MANILLA (@khvno_) September 21, 2018
Iwobi looks such a better player— Jimmy (@jummalM98) September 20, 2018
Of course, we live in a “what have you done for me lately world”, and so it’s inevitable that at some point, should he slip up a bit, Alex Iwobi will face more future scrutiny. For now, it’s nice to see that a formerly scorned player is starting to make fans take notice.