Alex Iwobi came from the bench to become the game changer for Arsenal in their 1-1 draw with Liverpool but Unai Emery declined the chance to lavish the Super Eagles forward with praise, instead revise his predecessor’s call for the youngster to make a further direct impact on the scoresheet.
The 22-year-old was introduced in the 68th minute for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and, playing in an unfamiliar left-back role after Danny Welbeck was also introduced as Arsenal chased an equaliser, provided a delicate through ball from which Alexandre Lacazette swivelled and struck an equaliser the Gunners had thoroughly merited.
It was the fifth assist Iwobi has registered in what has been a much improved season for the young Nigerian who has gone from a source of fan frustration to cult hero in rapid time.
“Iwobi can impact hard in the match,” he said.
“First he started on the right, then I thought he was better left. His impact in some moments in the match, like our goal, is important.
“His energy is important, so is his quality. He can improve. He can do better. He scored against Chelsea, I want him to be nearer the box, having chances to score more.
“He can. He is very young. He is improving. But also he has the ambition to do more.”
The Nigerian international has visibly benefitted from the greater fitness work Emery has demanded of his squad and looks a far more physically imposing figure on the pitch.
“You can see from each player we’re giving [a major] shift in work and the intensity,” Iwobi said.
“You can see the coach demands a lot, not just in matches but in training, and the results show on the pitch.”