Arsenal and Nigeria youngster Alex Iwobi has opened up about the difficulties of dealing with squad rotation under Arsene Wenger this season, outlining the need to be "patient".
Iwobi 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 Bellerin and 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.
While he wants to play as much as possible, Iwobi was remains magnanimous about his performances and those of his teammates, admitting he only has himself to blame.
“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.”
Despite intermittent involvement this season, Iwobi was suddenly called on to start Arsenal’s biggest match of the season to date during the 0-0 draw away at champions Chelsea. After a slow start to the campaign, Iwobi believes the Gunners have turned the corner.
“Especially after the [4-0] loss against Liverpool in August, we had a lot of critics saying, ‘Arsenal are going to throw it away again’,” he said. “But we have bounced back, we were able to put in some good performances.
“Everyone wanted to prove to the world what we are capable of doing — and there is no better way of doing that than against the champions at their home ground."