Arsenal legend Robert Pires has revealed that he told Alex Iwobi that he ‘made the difference’ during his cameo role against Watford on Saturday – and is also tipping the midfielder for a bright future with the club.
A 60th-minute substitute at the Emirates over the weekend, Iwobi was the catalyst for an upturn in fortunes for the Gunners, providing the cross for Craig Cathcart’s own goal and also playing a role in the build-up to Mesut Ozil’s second.
And club icon Pires says he was so impressed with the Nigeria international’s display that he spoke to him after the match to praise his impact.
‘I know just one thing, I told him after the game he made the difference,’ Pires told Standard Sport. ‘He’s a great player, very fast.
‘He finds good solutions on the field with his vision. He has good mentality and spirit. Of course, he’s young but he’s learning very quickly.
‘Arsenal with Alex Iwobi and Alex Iwobi with Arsenal have a good future.’
Predominantly a peripheral figure under Arsene Wenger, Iwobi has seemingly grown in stature under new manager Unai Emery.
And speaking in the aftermath of Saturday’s 2-0 win, the 22-year-old admitted that the Spaniard has given him greater confidence to go out and express himself fully.
‘I’m more positive and more confident with the ball,’ Iwobi said. ‘The boss has basically told me that if something doesn’t work, just keep going and don’t dwell on it.
‘He’s told me to stop being so critical and to just keep trying no matter what happens, no matter if things don’t go as I want them to.
‘That’s given me a lot more confidence to try a few more things, like beat a player, to shoot more. I’m always ready to get on the ball a bit more, so I guess it’s helped in that sense.
‘I’ve lost a bit of weight because of the intense training and I think it’s made me a bit sharper.’