Carlo Ancelotti must ruthlessly axe Alex Iwobi when Everton travel to Arsenal on Friday night, having been his side’s worst-performing player against Tottenham Hotspur last time out.
Iwobi has struggled to establish himself as a key part of Ancelotti’s plans over recent months but was given the nod to start for the visit of Jose Mourinho’s Spurs, in what proved to be the Portuguese’s final game in charge.
A brace from Harry Kane either side of strikes from Gylfi Sigurdsson ensured the points were shared, but the axe fell on Mourinho’s tenure after 17 months despite guiding the north Londoners to this Sunday’s Carabao Cup final.
Iwobi has been given frequent chances to inspire a turnaround of his form with starting roles in four of the Toffees’ last five Premier League games, yet he has not scored since January 12 or provided an assist since December 16th.
His goal against Wolverhampton Wanderers to help to a 2-1 victory at Molineux remains the Nigerian winger’s only strike of the top-flight campaign, while being without an assist in 15 appearances after ending an eight-game drought with his second of the term at Leicester City.
Ancelotti must now call time on Iwobi’s run in the starting line-up with the Italian set to welcome 14-goal top-scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin back from an abductor injury, after seeing Iwobi flounder against Tottenham as the worst of Everton’s starting options.
The Liverpool Echo graded Iwobi with their joint-lowest match rating at just four out of 10, having carelessly turned over possession throughout the first half, including in the build-up to Spurs’ opening goal, while The Guardian described his performance as ‘anonymous’.
Iwobi was even given the worst match rating of any player for either side by SofaScore at 6.1 out of 10, while WhoScored graded the Toffees’ £50,000-per-week winger at six out of 10 – only Tanguy Ndombele (5.9) was given a lower score for an outfield player.
The Blues’ £34m former Arsenal dynamo earned such woeful grades having missed the target with his only shot of the night, created no goalscoring chances, made fewer accurate passes (18) than goalkeeper Jordan Pickford (21) and lost a whopping 87% of his duels.
Iwobi contested eight challenges at home to Tottenham last Friday but emerged victorious in just one of seven battles on the ground and lost his only aerial contest. He also failed to beat a visiting player with either of his two attempted dribbles.
It was a performance miles from his normal standards, having averaged a modest 51% duel success over his 27 Premier League appearances (16 starts) this season, with success in 2.9 ground challenges (53%) and 0.1 aerial (27%), while making 1.6 successful dribbles (64%).
Altogether, Iwobi’s shocking efforts before being hauled off in the 61st minute meant he earned his lowest SofaScore match rating in 46 appearances across all competitions for Everton – dating back to a 5.3 out of 10 achieved during a 3-1 win over Chelsea at Goodison Park in December 2019.
Ancelotti cannot reward Iwobi for a performance that off the pace by starting him away to his former side on Friday night, and the return of top-scorer Calvert-Lewin will ensure the Italian has an option to slot straight into his starting line-up.