Keown: Iwobi must raise his game in Mkhitaryan’s absence

Europa League By: Ikponmwosa Umweni | 12/04/2018

Gunners legend Martin Keown has called on Super Eagle forward Alex Iwobi must raise his game up ahead of Arsenal Europa League second-leg clash with CSKA Moscow after Henrikh Mkhitaryan was ruled out next three weeks

The 29-year-old Armenia international suffered a medial knee ligament injury and was forced off after 61 minutes of Gunners' 4-1 victory over Russian outfit at Emirate Stadium and has not travelled to Moscow.

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With Mkhitaryan sidelines, Iwobi may have an opportunity to step in and be part of the Arsenal frontline on Thursday as they look to avoid another shock European night after Roma dumped Barcelona out of the Champions League on Tuesday.

However, Keown has been unimpressed with the 21-year-old Nigeria international this season and believes he has to prove he’s good enough to play for Arsene Wenger’s side after a good performance against Southampton at the weekend.

"If anything, this week should focus Arsenal,’ he told the Daily Mail.

"They cannot afford to take liberties in this match. ‘CSKA Moscow will take a leaf out of Roma’s book and try to recreate an intimidating atmosphere, but they showed in the first leg they’re at their best when they’re flying forward.

"That will leave space for Arsenal to exploit and I fancy them to score goals, even with Henrikh Mkhitaryan out. His season-ending knee injury is such a disappointment. He’s already made himself indispensable. He’s so nimble and creative, and his absence leaves a void.

"Without him, it’s time for Alex Iwobi to deliver. He has been in the first team for three seasons now but has not really trained on.

"He’s neat and tidy but is not decisive enough. He’s scored more goals for Nigeria than Arsenal this season – two goals in 32 games is not good enough for an attacking player, even if a lot of those are from the bench."

Arsenal are already without Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the Europa League due to him having already played this season for Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.