One of the most pleasing aspects of the narrow 1-0 win over Norwich City on Wednesday was the performance of Alex Iwobi. Can he finally be the answer on the right of midfield for Everton?
Iwobi has been a frustrating and underachieving figure at Goodison Park since he joined last summer, as in truth have far too many recent Toffees signings.
The Nigerian international has drifted in and out of games, gone missing for too long in others and when he gets going, despite making some powerful and dangerous runs forward, too often he then wastes the ball in the final third.
However, on Wednesday he was bright, energetic and full of creativity. Iwobi got forward whenever he had the chance to do so, although he didn’t neglect his defensive duties either.
As well as his trademark running with the ball and taking on defenders, he wasn’t guilty of holding onto the ball too much and so eventually losing possession. without ultimately creating a good chance out of it.
In addition he was also putting lots of crosses into the penalty area as well. In a recent article, the Liverpool Echo give a good overview of his performance.
This aspect of his game is important as whoever plays in the wide areas of Carlo Ancelotti’s flexible 4-4-2, needs to supplying the two strikers with as much quality ball as possible.
But he has an essential role too when the formation changes. At the moment, when Ancelotti’s side shifts into a back three, generally its left-back Lucas Digne who breaks forward and overlaps with the left-sided player, allowing him to tuck inside to link up with the forwards.
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That means whoever plays on the right, needs to keep his discipline and the shape of the team and provide cover for the right-back who is now effectively playing as an auxiliary centre-half.
This may change if Everton play Djibril Sidibe or sign another right-back who can both defend and attack like Digne. But it seems to me that this system won’t work if both full-backs spend too much time going forward and overlapping.
The Blues have been linked with a lot of wide attacking players recently and Ancelotti may well have his eye on one or two he wants to sign.
Everton have tried so many combinations and players on the flanks in recent seasons, especially on the right hand side. Richarlison, Bernard, Theo Walcott, Sidibe and now Iwobi have all played there with varying degrees of short-term success.
I’ve written before that I think there is a good player in Iwobi, one with talent and ability. If he keeps playing as well as he did on Wednesday, Ancelotti might not need to go into the transfer market this summer, for a right winger at least.