The Chalkboard: Unai Emery should drop the under-performing Alex Iwobi vs Burnley

Unai Emery has been left with little choice but to drop one of Arsenal’s key men against Burnley, following Alex Iwobi’s continued poor performances.

On the chalkboard

The Nigerian international has been a regular inclusion under Emery since the Spaniard took charge in the summer.

At first, his arrival looked to have brought the best out of the 22-year-old, as his work on and off the ball improved tenfold, but he is now without a goal in the Premier League since August or an assist from the start of November.

Since setting up Alexandre Lacazette’s equaliser at home to Liverpool, Iwobi has created seven key passes in eight games, leading to being hauled off 13 minutes into the second half as the Gunners crashed out of the Carabao Cup against arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday.

What made his name one of the first on the team-sheet has not been there for a while, and axing him will tell him that his performances haven’t been good enough.

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Who can Emery turn to?

Arsenal’s failure to land a top-draw winger in the summer market leaves Emery with very limited options to replace Iwobi.

Sead Kolasinac has been used as a left-midfielder before, and could work higher up the pitch than his usual wing-back slot, but the likely alternative would be either Lacazette or Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – depending on who starts at striker.

Will that be a change of shape?

When Emery first took charge of the Gunners, he instilled confidence in his players by persisting with a 4-2-3-1, but injuries scuppered his plans and he was forced to adjust to a three-man backline.

Iwobi’s absence would leave the Spaniard without the natural left-sided inside-forward that is heavily responsible for creating chances for the striker.

If the former PSG head coach were to introduce two strikers from the off, then the change of shape would be minimal as the right-sided inside forward, either Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Aaron Ramsey, or Mesut Ozil, could slot in behind Lacazette and Aubameyang.

Ozil’s inclusion would come after Emery confirmed that the German still has a future at the club, despite not featuring against Tottenham on Wednesday, and allow the former Real Madrid star to feature in his best position.