Alex Iwobi is the latest player to defend Arsene Wenger, but he also took time to defend himself, hoping fans realise he always gives 100%.

  • Iwobi broke into the Arsenal first team almost exactly 12 months ago
  • The midfielder says Arsene Wenger is like his dad
  • Everyone at the club is fighting for Wenger says Iwobi

Alex Iwobi rise within Arsenal has seemed meteoric over the past season or two. A player thrown in at the deep end with the first team, most wondered what the hell Arsene Wenger was doing when he gave him the nod to start against Barcelona. He took no time to show that he deserved to be with the first team.

Currently away on international duty, the Nigerian said, “For a youngster, he’s a great manager to have. Some of the things I see are unfair on the man,’ says Iwobi, who looks personally hurt by the criticism his mentor has received.

“Twenty years at the club, and he’s done so much. Obviously the season’s not going quite as he wants, but some of the things I see are a bit disrespectful.

“He’s not a huge talker, but when he does talk to you he’s like a good friend. He’s almost like my dad talking to me. 

alex iwobi nigeria
BARNET, ENGLAND – MARCH 23: Alex Iwobi of Nigeria looks on during the International Friendly match between Nigeria and Senegal at The Hive on March 23, 2017 in Barnet, England. (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

“He has so much knowledge, and when he does speak to me, it’s just words of wisdom, telling me what I need to work on.

“He’ll joke around a bit too. I remember one game, I think it was against Tottenham, I had a great chance, and then the next day he was talking to me about it, joking about how if I’d have scored we’d have won. 

“But he’s trying to help me, and the next two weeks I was working on my finishing.

“He’s always trying to help, no matter what, especially with the young players, trying to make them feel confident. He’ll talk to you about the mistakes you make, but he says don’t dwell on it, just move forward.

“Of course, if we’re not winning games we’re always going to be under pressure, at a great club like Arsenal you’re expected to win, to be title contenders. It’s hard for him, but it’s not just his fault. Us players haven’t performed as well as we should have been.

“I’ll tell you now, everyone is fighting 100 per cent for him, we all want to win games, we respect what he’s done for the club, and respect him as a person. Obviously we’ve had a few problems because of the results not going well, but, we’re due to bounce back, it’s just a minor setback.’

“You know what, I only get a tough time online. I can still go around and everyone’s nice, I still get respected. I feel like I always try, no matter what, I always give 100 per cent. 

“I hope the fans know that, that I always give 100 per cent for the team, for the club. I know the fans want to win trophies, we all do.  But it’s a huge difference between what you see on the street and on social media. Huge. 

“Some of the things on there, it makes me laugh. Fans are allowed to have their own opinion, at the end of the day they can say whatever they want, but some of them, it’s crazy.

“They just want their own team to win. I can understand that. But some of the things they say… There’s nothing I should say, but I’ve seen it all! You just have to brush it off and go again. I just try not to see it.”

Iwobi is, of course, just the latest player to come out in defence of Arsene Wenger and it’s clear to see that the club are rallying troops ahead of a new contract announcement. They’re all singing from the same hymn-sheet. Well, most of them.

As for Iwobi, his form has suffered over the past few months. That’s to be expected, however.

He’s young and his consistency is something that will grow better with age.