MX23RW : Monday, January 21 02:07:37

Iwobi hails influence of ‘world-class’ Ozil

The Nigeria international has started five of Arsenal’s last seven games.

Alex Iwobi has credited “world-class” Mesut Ozil with helping him develop into a key man in Arsenal’s side.

Ozil starred as the Gunners beat Leicester 3-1 on Monday night to seal a 10th consecutive win in all competitions and move up to third in the Premier League.

The German playmaker equalised on the stroke of half-time after a Hector Bellerin own goal had given Leicester a deserved lead at the Emirates Stadium.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then came off the bench to score a brace for the second game in a row to seal the win, with Ozil heavily involved in both efforts – including a central role in a brilliant team move for Arsenal’s third goal.

Iwobi also shone and has now started five of the last seven games with the Nigeria international showing improvement on last season – something he believes has been partly down to the influence
of Ozil.

“Of course I get the privilege to play with him every day,” the 22-year-old said.

Alex Iwobi
Alex Iwobi, centre, has hailed the influence Mesut Ozil, right, has had on him (Nick Potts/PA)

“I have been training with him since I was 17 and I have seen what he can do. The quality he has is not just in training but as you can see in the match last night, he is a world-class player and he proved that again last night.

“He gives me advice in a different way. He jokes around but always tells me I can do more – even last night he was saying I can do more, he is always one of those guys.

“But he is always happy, always telling me and giving me the confidence to express myself so it helps me.

“Mesut will come across as laid back but he is helping everyone in a different way and he helps me a lot.”

As well as Ozil, Iwobi believes playing under Unai Emery has helped him improve his confidence levels after some shaky spells during his early Arsenal career.

“For me, he has just given me confidence to express myself,” he said of Emery.

“To believe in my ability which I have been trying to show and basically also in training he is always letting me try new things, be positive, be direct and prove it in the game. It is working for me so I just have to keep it going.

“I’d just say I am more confident. I feel that even if I make a mistake I am able to go again. I think that is the difference between me last year and this year.”

Wilfred Ndidi hit the crossbar for Leicester with the scores level in the second half and was also the closest player to Rob Holding when the Arsenal defender got away with a clear handball inside the box early in the game.

“If we’d have got the penalty and then the ball hadn’t hit the crossbar everything would have worked perfectly for us,” the Foxes midfielder told LCFC TV.

“We just look forward and take confidence into the next game. I would say it’s a bit disappointing in the second half, we did our bit in the first half, we did really well.

“It’s not just about looking at the first half, we need to develop the second half and go from there. It was a tight game. When we conceded the second and then the third, everything just didn’t go our way.”

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