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Arsenal boss Unai Emery hails Alex Iwobi as a ‘big’ player – but still demands more

PUBLISHED: 22:30 10 February 2019 | UPDATED: 22:30 10 February 2019

Arsenal's Alex Iwobi scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield.PA

Arsenal's Alex Iwobi scores his side's first goal of the game during the Premier League match at the John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield.PA

PA Wire/PA Images

Layth Yousif quizzed Arsenal boss Unai Emery on Alex Iwobi after the Gunners 2-1 victory over Huddersfield on Saturday. Read on for what the Gunners head coach told the Islington Gazette.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery and Alex Iwobi during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PAArsenal manager Unai Emery and Alex Iwobi during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PA

Arsenal boss Unai Emery has hailed Alex Iwobi after the 22-year-old grabbed the first goal in the Gunners hard-fought 2-1 victory at Huddersfield on Saturday.

The former academy star’s volley helped the visitors on their way to a vital three points at the John Smith’s Stadium in their hunt for a top four spot and a coveted place in the Champions League.

Arsenal manager Unai Emery and Alex Iwobi during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PAArsenal manager Unai Emery and Alex Iwobi during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PA

Alex Lacazette slotted home a second for the North Londoners, who held firm against a determined Terriers side who could count themselves unfortunate not to have got something out of the game – despite Adama Diakhaby grabbing a consolation with seconds remaining.

Speaking after the match in response to a question on Iwobi from the Gazette Emery said: “He scored and he had another very good chance.

Arsenal's Alex Iwobi during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PAArsenal's Alex Iwobi during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PA

“He had also the chance to assist Lacazette but I think his [performance against Huddersfield] starting with his attitude, was very big.

“[His] performance was good.”

Arsenal's Alex Iwobi (left) and Southampton's Jan Bednarek battle for the ball during the Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton. PAArsenal's Alex Iwobi (left) and Southampton's Jan Bednarek battle for the ball during the Premier League match at St Mary's Stadium, Southampton. PA

Iwobi has been the subject of criticism since failing to build on his impressive breakthrough season in 2016 when he starred against Barcelona in the Nou Camp in the Champions League as a 19-year-old.

The Lagos-born attacker also made the headlines when notching important goals in tough away games such as in the 2-0 victory over Everton at Goodison Park in March of that year, days after catching the eye in Catalonia.

Arsenal's Alex Iwobi (left) and Chelsea's Pedro battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. PAArsenal's Alex Iwobi (left) and Chelsea's Pedro battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Stamford Bridge, London. PA

Yet the Arsenal star lost his way under the latter stages of Arsene Wenger’s reign when his under-par performances did not merit a regular starting berth, prompting accusations of being indulged by the Frenchman while his progress stalled.

However the Nigerian international, who played for England U18 before opting to play for the west African country, appears reinvigorated under former PSG boss Emery this term as his work rate and influence down the right flank has increased substantially.

Arsenal's Alex Iwobi (left) and Wolverhampton Wanderers' Ivan Cavaleiro battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PAArsenal's Alex Iwobi (left) and Wolverhampton Wanderers' Ivan Cavaleiro battle for the ball during the Premier League match at the Emirates Stadium, London. PA

Emery still believes there is far more to come from Iwobi, who has now hit 11 league games for Arsenal in 88 starts – but was happy to praise his contribution against Jan Siewart’s Terriers.

He told the Gazette: [Iwobi] is young. He has a big commitment. He has a very good physical condition.

Arsenal's Alex Iwobi (left) and Manchester United's Diogo Dalot battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PAArsenal's Alex Iwobi (left) and Manchester United's Diogo Dalot battle for the ball during the Premier League match at Old Trafford, Manchester. PA

“He needs to improve, tactically maybe also, some things.

“Above all he needs to be calm with the ball in the attacking third to have more assists and create more possibilities to score, to know when to shoot and when to dribble.”

Arsenal manager Unai Emery ahead of the Premier League match at the John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield. PAArsenal manager Unai Emery ahead of the Premier League match at the John Smith's Stadium, Huddersfield. PA

Follow the latest news, interviews, exclusives and informed opinion Arsenal reporter Layth on Twitter @laythy29

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