Alex Iwobi had an evening to forget against Man City but he is way better than that performance
It was far from a pleasant evening for Iwobi who was given a role on the right of Arsenal’s attack
Iwobi dawdled on the ball and was dispossessed by Aymeric Laporte whose cross was met by Sergio Aguero for Manchester City’s opening goal of the game. It was torrents of criticisms and vilification for the Nigerian afterwards.
Iwobi didn’t make up for that mistake in any way in that game and by the time he was taken off in the 67th minute, he has had his worst game for Arsenal.
It was far from a pleasant evening for Iwobi who was given a role on the right of Arsenal’s attack. He spent most of the game chasing City players as Arsenal were expectedly on the back foot. His defending and marking was not tenacious and he also failed to track runners.
He was also partly at fault for City’s third goal. He tracked Raheem Sterling but could not put in a strong tackle, allowing the forward to cut inside the Arsenal box before crossing for Aguero to complete his hattrick.
All of City’s goals on Sunday were made from Arsenal’s right side of defence which was under the watch of Iwobi and Stephan Lichtsteiner. Defending has never been Iwobi’s strength and coupled with Lichtsteiner’s waned legs, both of them could not bring the needed intensity to defend properly from that side.
Iwobi also offered little going forward. He failed to bring width and penetration that was needed to trouble Manchester City. On the left, Sead Kolasinac a defender by trade put in more than two crosses in the box and made more penetrative runs from the left.
But to Iwobi’s defence, playing from the right has never been his strength, so it befogs why Emery chose this game to try him out in that role. Iwobi thrives off teammates running and creating spaces around him. Playing on the right does not afford him that luxury as the only space to his strong side is away from the goal area and as Lichtsteiner didn’t have the legs to run and cover that side, Iwobi was ineffective in that area.
But from the right, he has the spaces on his strong right side to exploit while playing in overlapping fullbacks to his left.
More than that performance
Ultimately, it was an evening to forget for Iwobi but he has to move on from that awful performance in a flash. So far this season, he has shown that he has way more than that performance inside of him.
It didn’t go well for him against Manchester City and he has become some sort of a bete noire among Arsenal fans. But he should take the criticisms up the chin, get himself up and work harder.
Just less than three months ago, he was being raved about as the most improved player at the club when the novelty of Emery’s new reign was still in full sparkle. Before the trip to the Etihad, he had been Arsenal’s best performer in most of their big away games this season . He grabbed an assist and a goal against Chelsea at the Stamford Bridge earlier in the season, against Liverpool in their last game of 2018, he created Arsenal's only goal and kept driving their attack the whole 90 minutes.
Iwobi is more than what he showed against City but it's just up to him to unlock his potentials once again and shut the critics up.