Why was Alex Iwobi replaced at halftime for the third time this year?

In the last round of the Premier League, Arsenal took on Tottenham Hotspurs in an always electric North London derby. The final score was 4:2 to the Gunners.

Arsenal took the lead in the 10th minute when Pierre-Emerick Aubemayang converted a penalty after Jan Vertonghen handled the ball. After some back and forth play, and a few chances, Spurs made the game level through a header from Eric Dier. And just three minutes later, Tottenham were awarded a penalty when Rob Holding brought down Heung-Min Son. Harry Kane was clinical from the spot and it was 2:1 Spurs. It stayed like this at halftime.

Unai Emery, Arsenal manager, made two subs at the start of the second half. He brought Alexandre Lacazette and Aaron Ramsey in and took Alex Iwobi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan off. The Gunners were attacking again and soon equalized through a second Aubemayang goal. In the next 20 minutes, both teams were doing their best to get into a chance before Arsenal got a lucky break after a shot by Lacazette deflected off Dier past the Spurs keeper. Three minutes later, Lucas Torreira was through on goal to score his first goal for Arsenal and make the score 4:2 which didn’t change until the end of the game.

Alex Iwobi – Player of Arsenal - Vlad1988 / Shutterstock.com

Alex Iwobi – Player of Arsenal – Vlad1988 / Shutterstock.com

The Nigerian star, Alex Iwobi started the match but for the third time this year, he was taken out of the game at half-time by the coach. Emery explained his decision later as a tactical one, saying that Lacazette had ambitions to score against every team and that Ramsey had experience against the Spurs. For sure, Iwobi wasn’t having the best of games although he was through on goal at one point in the first half, forcing the Tottenham goalkeeper to make a save.

If we look at the statistics, Iwobi wasn’t that creative on the pitch. He wasn’t fouled at all; his passing wasn’t precise, and he had lost a few balls in the process. But the Gunners manager didn’t want to criticize Iwobi for his performance but rather explain that his team needed a change and a push, and he chose to put in two players who could get him that push. In the end, it seems that he was right to make those changes, with Ramsey assisting for the equalizer and Lacazette scoring the third.

So far this season, Iwobi has played the full 90 minutes only two times and he will need to work on his consistency throughout the whole game to continue as a starter.

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