The Nigerian striker is unlikely to rest on his laurels now after impressing in recent months on Merseyside
Carlo Ancelotti’s disappointment after Everton was rightly beaten by Newcastle United was palpable. The Magpies had beaten the hosts 2-0 on their home turf and probably deserved even more.
Newcastle, a side that get hammered by neutrals for their overly negative approach, actually sometimes brought the game home and earned the result at Goodison Park. They may have ceded possession to the Toffees (well, some things remain the same, right?), But fashioned presentable openings intermittently during the game.
Their expected goals of 1.8 were their third best of the season and the highest since… beating Everton 2-1 at St James’ Park. Perhaps it also angered Ancelotti, whose displeasure was undeniable last Saturday.
“I think Newcastle won the game because they showed more fighting spirit on the pitch,” the Italian said bluntly after the game. “They showed more focus, more motivation. These were the weapons we had when we won matches – mind, motivation, focus and ambition.
“I think we forgot all of this today at home. I don’t know why, but it was the reason, it wasn’t a tactical or physical reason, it was a mental reason. The psychological aspect affected our performance.
While this is aimed at the whole squad, it probably resonated more with Alex Iwobi, who was the first to feel the boredom of the former Chelsea head coach during this loss. The Nigerian playmaker was sacrificed in the 63rd minute for Andre Gomes in the only substitution made by the experienced three-time Champions League-winning manager.
In truth, a lack of options on the bench meant the former Napoli boss was no longer making substitutions; Still, opting for the replacement of West Africa was striking, nonetheless.
This is not a review of Iwobi – after all, he has been praised for his performances in recent months that have seen him move from the rotational option to one of the Toffees’ main players – but an acknowledgment of the need to maintain the previous consistency levels to remain useful to the 61 year old.
Is Alex Iwobi’s New Coherence the New Normal?
Piece on @GoalAfrica. https://t.co/OHS7s7xZqD
– Seye Omidiora (@theReal_SeyE) January 22, 2021
While the harshness of this reality seems unfair, the truth is that the former Arsenal playmaker is neither at the level of playmaker James Rodriguez nor Richarlison, whose goal threat as a wide forward makes him an asset in Everton’s XI.
The couple are entitled to days off because there is always that feeling in the back of their mind that they can pull a rabbit out of a hat despite a disappointing situation. Iwobi hasn’t been too creative in his incredible performances in the side, nor has he scored a succession of goals. Frankly, that makes him an easy target.
Of course, observers will quickly point out the scarcity of Brazil’s contributions to the goal this quarter – two goals and three assists – which improve Nigerian’s three by two. Still, his return of 13 goals in each of his two years at Everton, coupled with four assists in total, indicates he will be favored given that history.
Iwobi started the important 2-1 win over Leeds United midweek, a suggestion of the level of confidence Ancelotti has in him. Others will suggest it was simply due to the decision to give James a break for Saturday night’s intimidating trip to a Manchester United side backed by a 9-0 rout of the hapless Southampton at Old Trafford.
Gylfi Sigurdsson replaced the Colombian superstar in the Elland Road hole, with André Gomes and Abdoulaye Doucoure deployed in front of the defense. Given the Icelandic star’s compelling performance against Marcelo Bielsa’s men, the immediate idea will be to keep the same XI, except for James replacing Iwobi in the lineup.
This theory is understandable; However, the Everton boss will always be up to date with the events of the reverse match at Goodison, especially how the Red Devils brutally exposed the South American playmaker’s lack of defensive awareness to punish the hosts 3-1. on their territory.
It was that loss that prompted a brief move to a 3-4-3 in the very next Premier League game at Fulham, incidentally contributing to Iwobi’s increased functionality in that Everton squad since November.
The defensive change the 24-year-old can put in place will be necessary against Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s troops, while his ball bearing will come in handy during the break with the Toffees expected to cede their territory and possession to the English giants .
Ancelotti wanted a reaction after that lame surrender to Newcastle and he was happy their best qualities were evident in the 2-1 success against Whites. Wit, effort, speed, combat, focus, and ambition characterized Everton’s beautiful fate in the fall and winter, with Iwobi epitomizing growth during their impressive run of results.
Without a doubt, the Italian boss is hopeful the Nigerian side are given a boost as they face a tough journey seeking to be lucky for the third time against the Red Devils after some disappointing failures against the menacing giants Manchester.