Alex Iwobi says Unai Emery’s new training sessions necessitate that he’s at the top of his game and he already thinks the hard work is paying dividends.
The Nigeria international was a surprise starter when the Gunners travelled to Chelsea last Saturday and he went on to help himself to a goal and an assist as he impressed in the 3-2 defeat.
Having grown up at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, Iwobi might have found it difficult to swallow the myriad recent changes at London Colney, but he says he’s relishing the challenge.
“It’s exciting times to be fair,” Iwobi told Arsenal Player. “Everybody’s enjoying and buying into the new ideas. For me personally, I’m enjoying the new sessions, the new training methods and the new ideas, so I’m enjoying my time with him.
“He [Emery] demands a lot. He’s a lot more intense, a lot of high pressing and keeping the ball so that it benefits us if we have the ball. It’s good for us, especially the attackers who like to have the ball a lot.
“It’s making me feel a bit sharper, I’m doing things with a bit more intensity. It’s not just for me, though, I feel like I’m helping the team a lot more. It’s benefitting me a lot more.”
Having burst onto the scene a couple of years ago, Iwobi’s development in the last 18 months has stuttered somewhat. Despite the slowdown, the club decided to reward him with a new long-term contract this summer.
Iwobi knows that the ball is firmly in his court and he not only has to repay that faith in him but simultaneously court a new regime.
“Whenever something in the system changes, you have to prove yourself again. But wherever you go, you have to prove that you’re better than whoever else is on the team.
“At a team like Arsenal, that’s always going to be hard so I always have to be on it in training and matches.
“I’ve got to be different. It’s going to be hard because we’ve got so many attackers and so many world-class players, so I’ve just got to prove that I’m on that level or as good as them so that I can be ahead of them, which is my aim.”