Opinion: Emery deserves plenty of blame for 21-cap ace’s torrid showing for Arsenal on Sunday

Arsenal slumped to a 3-1 defeat against reigning Premier League champions Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday night.

Pep Guardiola’s side went a goal ahead within the first minute, when Sergio Aguero headed home from close range. The goal came from an Alex Iwobi error, as the Gunners’ attacker was caught in possession on the edge of his own box.

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The 22-year-old struggled with the intensity of the City press and couldn’t get his creative game going either. Despite working hard and covering plenty of ground, Iwobi failed to justify his place ahead of the likes of Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey, who were both benched by Unai Emery.

Alex Iwobi Manchester City vs Arsenal PIN Graphic - Opinion: Emery deserves plenty of blame for 21-cap ace’s torrid showing for Arsenal on Sunday

The Spanish coach will have hoped that the 21-cap Nigeria international could bridge the gap between the Gunners’ midfield and their strike partnership of Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. However, Iwobi could not produce a single key pass or shot. 

What’s more, he failed to run with the ball as effectively as he can, as he managed to only complete two successful dribbles, and was dispossessed twice – the first occasion making him culpable for the opening goal.

Whilst he was otherwise fairly tidy in possession, posting a respectable pass accuracy rating of 83%, his passing was slow, ineffective and lacked penetration.

However, much of the blame for Iwobi’s struggles lies with Emery. The winger should never have been entrusted with marshalling the likes of Raheem Sterling and Aymeric Laporte, as he doesn’t have the experience, diligence or composure for such a task. The ageing Stephan Lichtsteiner was of no use at right wing-back himself, which only served to highlight Iwobi’s flaws. 

On top that, the task of linking defence and attack practically single-handed was far too great to burden him with. With such little assistance he was only ever going to flounder.

Whilst Iwobi can’t be proud of his performance, Emery’s tactics and selection set him up for a fall.

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