Former Arsenal and England striker Ian Wright has admitted that he has been encouraged by the Gunners’ second half performances under Unai Emery, claiming that his old side look ‘fitter and stronger’ than they did towards the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign.
The north London side are on a 17 game unbeaten run in all competitions and Wright, speaking to 90min at an event to promote the TAG Heuer Premier League Pressure Test, put that success down to Emery’s methods.
“I think they look fitter,” he said, “and they look stronger. The fact that they’ve scored more goals in the second half of games than anyone, even Man City, says to me that they’re mentally and physically stronger in games. There’s been some games where there have been worrying mistakes, defensive frailties, but I think the goalkeeper’s done very well. I feel like there’s a fitness element and an intensity that we lacked for the last few years under Arsene Wenger.”
Wright admitted that the team still have a way to go to shed the demons of the past decade though, adding: “You can hear it when the manager’s doing his interviews, he’s constantly wanting more because he can see that it’s not quite the finished article. The Wolves game, they were opened up frequently and saved by the goalkeeper.
“There have been games in this run where Arsenal had ridden their luck, and you have to think at some stage the luck will run out. But with that record of second half goals, it says they’re not giving up, they’re getting something going and they’re getting the results off the back of that. What you also have to hope is that the defensive unit can get a little bit more solid.”
One player Wright backed to become an important part of his side’s success was Alex Iwobi, saying: “Iwobi is the kind of player that plays football with a freedom and a flair that I like. He was getting a bit of stick from some Arsenal fans for trying something in the box on the weekend, and Bournemouth broke and scored. But I’m thinking to myself ‘he’s in the box!’ If he’s not going to try stuff there, where’s he going to try it?
“I’m just pleased that he’s looking like he’s ready to take a chance, especially with the news that Aaron Ramsey may be leaving. I’m seen him come on for Ramsey on a few occasions and play particularly well.
“All Alex has to do now is just add that consistency to his game, a few more goals here and there. He’s got everything, he’s got pace, strength, skill, and if he can get the goals then you’ve got a player on your hands who’s going to cause people a lot of problems.”
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