Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright has hailed Unai Emery for the impact of his substitutes, namely Alex Iwobi who has heavily involved in the late wave of attacks that saw the Gunners grab an equaliser to share the points at the Emirates Stadium.
The Nigeria international has been in good form all season for his new head coach but was benched to face the Reds with Henrikh Mkhitaryan drafted into the starting line up.
Speaking before the weekend in his pre-match press conference, the Spaniard gave the midfielder some words of advice to further enhance his game.
“He is very young and I think he is in an improving moment in his career,” he said. “We need to also push him to improve because he has the quality and the capacity.
“The first thing is behaviour in training, finding ways to improve every day, and then to give him what he can improve tactically, individually.
“I think a lot of it is confidence. Every player needs confidence. Not only when playing but when we are together. I want every player to feel this confidence but also with a very big demand from us on himself to work every day.”
Judging by his performance off the bench against Liverpool, Emery’s words had the desired effect on Iwobi.
The 22-year-old caused his opponents all sorts of problems after coming off the bench in the second half, showing his skill in tight spaces to protect the ball and drive the Gunners forward with his positive passes into the final third.
Wright picked him out as one of three substitutes who changed the game for Arsenal alongside Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck but credited Iwobi as the most influential player among his team’s trio of reinforcements.
“Iwobi came on and was brilliant today,” he said as a pundit on BBC Sport’s Match of the Day in a segment that included plenty of praise for Emery and his use of options on the bench.
“He’s not afraid to make substitutions, Unai Emery. Substitutes for Arsenal, 10 goals they’ve been involved in this season: six goals, four assists.
“[Iwobi] came on again today with that brilliant skill and he made a big, big difference. Iwobi kept the ball alive.”
Alexandre Lacazette was the player who found the goal to level up the scores after James Milner put Liverpool ahead. The Frenchman produced a wonderful finish after turning back on himself in the box to curl his shot beyond Alisson Becker.
However, it was the hard work and awareness of Iwobi that made it possible with the Nigerian making the most out of Ramsey and Welbeck’s presence out wide and in the box, respectively, to pull the string and find the runner in Lacazette to undermine the visitors’ defence.
“Danny Welbeck did well up against Trent Alexander-Arnold,” said Wright of the England forward’s general performance as a striker prone to drifting out to the left. It proved to be a weak spot for Arsenal to exploit, especially for the goal.
“Alexander-Arnold was a bit worried about Aaron Ramsey so he left the space for Alex Iwobi to take full advantage of to find a great run from Lacazette,” said Wright. “A fantastic goal.
“We’ve got a manager now who is not afraid to make changes and the changes are making a difference when he gets people off the bench.”