Despite the scoreline of the game, Alex Iwobi let Carlo Ancelotti down as Everton beat Leeds United 2-1 on Wednesday night.
The Nigerian continued his run of opening the action for the Toffees from the right-flank at Elland Road, having established himself in the role over the festive period in the absence of James Rodriguez whilst the Colombian was sidelined with a calf injury.
Iwobi had impressed greatly from the right-wing during Everton’s 2-1 victory over Wolves last month by providing much of the Blues’ creativity and forward threat, but he was unable to replicate his Molineux exploits in West Yorkshire.
Iwobi initially looked powerful whilst enjoying pockets of space in Leeds territory as Everton controlled much of the early stages, keeping his head up to offer an attacking outlet.
Yet, the more the game wore on, the less involved Iwobi found himself, and ultimately he left Mason Holgate woefully exposed at right-back during a dogged defensive period in the second half, which saw Robin Olsen turn in an inspired display between the sticks to keep the Toffees ahead.
Holgate had been caught out by the Whites when his failed clearance ultimately led to Raphinha pulling one back for the hosts, with his precise strike halving the deficit created by goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
Raphinha offering Leeds a route back into the game turned the tide in Leeds’ favour as it triggered a heavy flow of traffic only heading in one way – toward Olsen’s net – that on another day, could easily have seen Everton let a two-goal lead only result in a point.
Iwobi rarely played his part in thwarting Leeds’ efforts and he was fortunate to stay on the field until the 87th-minute when Ancelotti opted to replace the £23m-rated forward to hand Deadline Day arrival Joshua King his Toffees debut.
Iwobi was one of only two outfield Everton players who started at Elland Road to fail at registering a single tackle attempted, along with Sigurdsson. But unlike the goalscoring Iceland international, the former Arsenal attacker also failed to record an interception, per WhoScored.
It marks the third-straight Premier League fixture in which Iwobi has failed to register a single tackle, interception or clearance, while also committing his first foul since Everton’s 2-1 win at Wolves on January 12.
The 24-year-old has averaged at least 1.4 tackles attempted a game in the top-flight this term, and further lagged behind his usual standards with only one successful dribble from two attempts having boasted a 70.8% success rate this season for 1.7 from 2.4 attempts.
Iwobi further registered his only shot of the game in the final minutes of the first half, and offered his only key pass just after the half-hour mark. Goalkeeper Olsen also played a higher total number of passes (32) than the Nigerian (23).
Given Everton’s dominant first half and the volume of defending the Toffees were later forced into, Ancelotti will have expected to see far more from Iwobi at Elland Road at both ends of the pitch.