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The playmaker didn’t get the splash of green in meetings against old friends last season, but the Toffees seem poised to stun North London this time.
Everton host Arsenal at Goodison Park this weekend on December 19 and Alex Iwobi will probably still harbor sad memories about the events of almost a year ago when the two teams met on December 21 in the corresponding match.
Facing his old team on his new pitch, the Nigerian attacking midfielder, who returned to chase his former teammates, made his way to one of the interesting secondary plots in Merseyside before kick-off.
With Carlo Ancelotti and Mikel Arteta confirmed as the club’s coaches after disastrous finishes from previous regimes under Marco Silva and Unai Emery in the hours leading up to the match, the match was announced as one for the selected staff to try to prove their worth up front. . of the new men at the helm.
However, for Iwobi, this opportunity was short-lived; an early hamstring injury just 10 minutes into the game at Goodison saw the West African replaced; therefore, he doesn’t 1) impress the new boss and 2) don’t show his old side what he was missing.
The Gunners academy graduate didn’t play again until early February and was trying to catch up for the rest of the season trying to solidify a first-team role.
The return leg at the Emirates Stadium also did not go as planned. Despite posting pretty remarkable underlying stats in North London, the former Arsenal player was replaced by Bernard on the hour, as the Toffees undeservedly lost 3-2.
2019/20 was turbulent for Iwobi in every sense of the word, and his dearth of direct contributions to goals (one goal, no assist) meant it was easy to claim that Everton had not been the beneficiary of the former prodigy’s acquisition.
In a sense, the same could have been said of Arsenal; whose glaring lack of creativity and the absence of an effective link player indicated that they had not benefited from selling their development team’s product.
While the issues plaguing the three-time Premier League winners are still prevalent, the Merseyside club has grown bigger and bigger, coming off a slump and looking to be on the rise again in the festive period.
In fact, Iwobi has played an important role for Ancelotti’s men in recent weeks; Initially working as a winger, playing an hour as a right back before replacing the injured James Rodriguez in victories over Chelsea last weekend and Leicester on Wednesday.
The 24-year-old was the home team’s most effective ball carrier against Frank Lampard’s team and only Richarlison (five) completed more dribbles than the Nigerian (four) in the 1-0 victory.
The midweek at King Power Stadium was even better. Unsurprisingly, the Super Eagle carried the ball into the opponent’s goal more productively than any other teammate on the night, completing all three dribbling attempts and engaging in four shot-creating actions, higher than all. his colleagues.
In addition, he created the highest volume of opportunities (three) against the Foxes, along with Gylfi Sigurdsson and made more accurate passes to the penalty area than any member of the Everton team.
Ancelotti, impressed, praised Iwobi’s performance as the best the Nigerian superstar had shown since taking office. When you consider that the experienced Italian has been on the bench since December last year, the effusive praise was surprising.
“Is his [Iwobi’s] the best moment since I arrived [at Everton]”Said Ancelotti to Everton website. “He’s showing confidence, he’s really good in one-on-one situations and he’s working hard. The key is to work hard, the team is working hard.
“I told the players that we have to be satisfied but we have to work and we have to improve.”
Although Iwobi has yet to score this season, his strike assist for Richarlison means he is now over last season’s tally.
The two-goal contributions may seem indistinguishable at first glance, but the underlying numbers thus far show a player who is an integral part of the Toffees.
Among teammates with significant minutes, only James surpasses the West African in shot-creating actions by 90, while he ranks a respectable fifth in goal-creating actions by 90. Iwobi also ranks fifth in progressive passing by game and the third in precise crosses and pin. -point goes to area p / g.
Furthermore, only Rodriguez and Lucas Digne rank above the former Arsenal player in Expected Assists per Game, while he is second to Richarlison in complete dribbles by 90.
After giving a good account of himself as a winger, Iwobi has shown his undoubted quality by being reinstated in the attacking third with the team’s creative axis out due to a slight injury.
Ancelotti has acknowledged the Nigerian’s growing confidence in recent weeks and puts him in the right frame of mind to finally get lucky for the third time against the team that let him go a year ago.