Carlo Ancelotti should look to rotate his squad and unleash Alex Iwobi on West Bromwich Albion on Thursday night, with Everton in action three times in the space of eight days.
The Toffees hosted and beat Southampton 1-0 on Monday but return to the field at the Hawthorns, before travelling to Stamford Bridge for a clash with top-four rivals Chelsea next Monday.
Taking points in south west London may prove crucial to the Blues’ hopes of qualifying for the Champions League, with Thomas Tuchel’s club currently above Everton by a single point ahead of their midweek visit to Liverpool later on Thursday following the Baggies affair.
Sam Allardyce’s Hawthorns natives will not be expected to present as much of a threat to Everton as Chelsea will, with the relegation-threatened side claiming only their third win in 26 games with a 1-0 victory over fellow strugglers Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.
West Brom were winless in their previous seven home Premier League fixtures, while Ancelotti’s Blues are one of the top-flight’s best travelling sides with only Manchester City, Leicester and Manchester United claiming more points on the road this season.
Ancelotti will look to keep Everton’s record going on Thursday but should have an eye toward Monday’s trip to the capital, and look to rest and rotate his options.
The Italian has not named an identical starting line-up in any of the Toffees’ last 22 Premier League games, with the last fixture to feature an unchanged side being Everton’s 2-1 win at Crystal Palace on September 26th.
Iwobi has played a minimal role in the Blues’ recent top-flight ties, with the 24-year-old only featuring for a mere seven minutes over two substitute outings against Liverpool and Southampton.
The £23m-rated winger had opened last month’s 3-1 loss to Manchester City for his fourth and most recent start of the calendar year, having only opened three of the previous six available games after sitting out New Year’s Day’s defeat to West Ham United through injury.
Iwobi had been a regular of Ancelotti’s plans before the Irons visit to Goodison Park, starting the Toffees’ prior eight matches across all competitions, and should now be afforded what has become a rare opportunity for the versatile dynamo to feature.
Ancelotti will be loath to lose one of his favoured trio, Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin or James Rodriguez, for Everton’s trip to Chelsea, but he can take confidence in the displays Iwobi produced prior to the turn of the year.
The former Chelsea and Real Madrid boss described Iwobi’s efforts at the tail end of 2020 as being among his best performance during his tenure, after providing a real grit to his displays.
“It’s his best moment since I arrived. He is showing confidence, is really good in one-versus-one situations and is working hard. The key is to work hard – the team is working hard,” Ancelotti said, via quotes by Royal Blue Mersey.
Iwobi is yet to build on his sole goal or two assists registered in the Premier League this season since striking the back of the net against Wolverhampton Wanderers in January, but has provided a key pass in each of his last two starts.
He also displayed his intent to drive Everton up the field during his brief cameo at home to Southampton on Monday, with Iwobi attempting a game-high six dribbles – more than double his average 2.5 per top-flight outing.
Fitness should not be a concern given his lack of recent action, either, so Ancelotti should have no reason to not start Iwobi at West Brom on Thursday night.
AND in other news, Everton are tracking a prolific 15-goal winger backed to reach another level…