I have learned it the hard way in Arsenal says Iwobi

EPL By: Ikponmwosa Umweni | 28/09/2017

I have learned it the hard way in Arsenal says Iwobi

Alex Iwobi saying that he is learned the hard way after falling down Arsenal pecking order in the starting place since Arsene Wenger switches into a 3-4-2-1 formation on April 17, as Gunners won nine of their final 10 games and lifted the FA Cup as the Super Eagles star did not start in any of them.

The 21-year-old forward made his debut in the Capital One Cup, Premier League and Champions League within the space of nine days, beginning in late October 2015, and, thereafter he has quickly established himself in the Arsenal first team.

Iwobi injured again, doubtful for Eagles' WC qualifier

Iwobi admitted there had been little time to reflect on the speed of his rise but we now meet at the launch of EA SPORTS FIFA 18 following a spell of introspection, It would be virtually impossible for any player to continue progressing at the rate Iwobi did but 2017 has posed the first serious test of the durability.

 “It was hard but something I had to learn from,” he said. “If you are not performing consistently at a club like Arsenal, then there are other players ready to take the opportunity — which I learned the tough way. 

“I wasn’t involved as much as I wanted to be but I just had to be patient, still have the same attitude, work hard in training and wait for my chance again. That’s what I’ve been doing.

“Obviously, I am an attacking player, so when you are an attacking player, you need to create goals and get goals — and that’s the main thing for me. People in my position were doing better than me in that aspect of the game, which is to eventually win games, and that’s something I had to work on.

“I never played it [three at the back] as a youngster growing up. I have played several ­positions in it — left wing-back, left off the forward, central midfield. Whatever role I get told to play, I just have to adapt to it and play. I don’t really blame the system, I more blame myself.”

Plenty of people were ready to apportion blame during difficult times at ­Arsenal last season, described subsequently by Wenger as an “absolutely horrendous” psychological environment.

The unrelenting growth of social media exposes players to uncensored ­opinion — with no better example for Iwobi and his team-mates than Arsenal FanTV. 

So, do the players ever tune in? “It would be a lie to say, ‘No, they haven’t watched it’, but it is not something I am really trying to watch because most of the time they do say a lot of negative ­comments,” said Iwobi. 

“But it is what it is. Fans have the right to say what they want to say. Whether it affects you depends on your character. As a football player, you should learn how to deal with all the negative comments and just forget about it.”

Wenger’s future was in the balance until after the end of the season and Iwobi admitted his relief that the only manager he has ever known opted to sign a new two-year deal.

“We were all concerned [that he might leave] because nobody knew what was happening,” he said. “For me, as a player, he is someone who has given me an opportunity and had faith in me, so I was a bit worried because who knows who would have come in or if the next manager would have liked me? I was grateful he stayed.

“But you never know. Another manager might come in and I’d be captain!”

Captaincy may be a few years off yet; Iwobi’s immediate task will be to regain full fitness after suffering a thigh problem which ruled him out of Thursday's Europa League clash against BATE Borisov in Belarus.

Iwobi made his first start for Arsenal’s biggest match of the season to date, securing a gutsy 0-0 draw away at ­champions Chelsea, only finding out for certain he would play on the day of the game and after a slow start to the campaign, Iwobi believes the Gunners have turned the corner.