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“I thought I was going to go on loan” Alex Iwobi Expresses Surprise at Being fast-tracked into the Arsenal first-team

Alex Iwobi plays as a winger and a striker for Arsenal

Alex Iwobi has expressed  surprise at  being  handed his first Champions League start at Arsenal

The Nigeria-born teenager noted that he had expected to spend this season on loan and had not expected the accelerated learning curve Arsene Wenger had planned.

 

Iwobi was handed his first Champions League start – only the sixth start of his career – in Barcelona as Wenger’s team slipped out of Europe, losing 3-1 on the night and 5-1 on aggregate against the holders.

 

‘I never thought I would get this far,’ said the 19-year-old. ‘I honestly thought I was going to go on loan at the start of the season. The manager has tried to show some faith in me and I am trying to prove him right by playing well every time I play.

‘I was pleased because, especially at 19, I never thought I would be here playing against the likes of Messi, Neymar and Suarez. I am just happy to be here.

 

‘I didn’t know how to feel when I was told I was playing. I was buzzing. I just wanted to go out and show to the world how I could play in a match against the best in the world.

 

 

‘To play against one of the best teams in the world in one of the best stadiums in the world is a young man’s dream. It was crazy.

‘I am pleased with my performance. I just wish that the team had won. No matter the results, this was always going to be a fantastic learning experience for me.’

 

Mohamed Elneny scored Arsenal’s consolation in the Nou Camp. It was his first for the club since signing from Basel in January.

 

Elneny’s goal made it 1-1 on the night, and for 14 minutes, the Londoners glimpsed a miracle recovery, and then Suarez appeared with his acrobatic volley and Barcelona disappeared out of sight.

 

‘Unfortunately, if we had taken our chances, we probably would have won,’ said Iwobi. ‘But we were playing against the best team in the world and I think we did very well just to get stuck into them.

 

‘Everybody in the dressing room is disappointed but not too disappointed. They were just unlucky at the end of the night.

 

‘From the word go there was always belief we could win this game and we just needed to give it that extra push.

 

‘Then, when Suarez got that goal, it was a killer and it was going to be very hard for us. We saw that they are the best in the world. We are trying to be the best in the world as well but we could not get the goals.’

Arsene Wenger opted to replace Iwobi in the final 18 minutes after a lively performance in Northern Spain

 

Arsene Wenger opted to replace Iwobi in the final 18 minutes after a lively performance in Northern Spain

Wenger protests after a decision goes against his side but he will have been pleased with Iwobi’s contribution

 

Wenger protests after a decision goes against his side but he will have been pleased with Iwobi’s contribution

 

The defeat means it is just four wins in 15 games for Wenger’s side. In the Champions League this season they have been beaten by every side they have faced: Dinamo Zagreb, Olympiacos, Bayern Munich and Barcelona.

 

In terms of quality, they are drifting further from Europe’s elite, but they refuse to give up on the title chase, and must focus on closing the 11-point gap to leaders Leicester.

 

‘We are going to try to win every game and hopefully finish first in the Premier League,’ said Iwobi. ‘That is the goal for us. Hopefully we can do that.’

 

Culled: Daily Mail

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