Iwobi, who has been invited for the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier against Zambia by Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr, enjoyed a successful breakthrough season during last year’s campaign, but has somewhat fallen down the pecking order since coming of age in 2016/17.
With Wenger reinventing the Gunners’ formation since the end of last season, Iwobi has struggled to find the consistent game time that he started to receive in the middle of last season. With Hector Bellerin and Sead Kolasinac regularly occupying the wide positions, the 21-year-old has struggled to fit in to the 3-5-2 formation implemented by Wenger.
While speaking to The Standard, Iwobi revealed it was not easy to get used to falling down the pecking order.
He said, “It was hard but something I had to learn from. If you are not performing consistently at a club like Arsenal, then there are other players ready to take the opportunity — which I learned the tough way.
“I wasn’t involved as much as I wanted to be but I just had to be patient, still have the same attitude, work hard in training and wait for my chance again.
“Obviously, I am an attacking player, so when you are an attacking player, you need to create goals and get goals — and that’s the main thing for me. People in my position were doing better than me in that aspect of the game, which is to eventually win games, and that’s something I had to work on.
“I never played it (three at the back) as a youngster growing up. I have played several -positions in it — left wing-back, left off the forward, central midfield. Whatever role I get told to play, I just have to adapt to it and play. I don’t really blame the system, I more blame myself.”
Iwobi, who had a below-par performance in Nigeria’s 2-0 defeat by South Africa in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo, withdrew from the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying double-header against African champions Cameroon. In his absence the Eagles won the first leg in Uyo 4-0 on August 31 and held the Indomitable Lions to a 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture in Yaoundé on September 6.
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