Everton’s honeymoon period under new manager Rafa Benitez has come well and truly crashing down, with a run of just one victory in the last nine fixtures in all competitions.
And things could be about to get even worse for the Toffees. An extensive injury list, including Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Yerry Mina and Abdoulaye Dourcoure grew over the weekend when Demarai Gray had to be substituted with an abductor problem.
Coupled with the fact that both Mason Holgate and Richarlison will be forced to watch on from the sidelines due to suspensions, Sunday’s trip to the Brentford Community Stadium could be one to forget.
After providing five goal contributions in his opening 12 outings for Everton, summer signing Gray has quickly established himself as a key player for Benitez’s side.
Therefore, his enforced absence over the weekend will be a big blow to the Blues’ chances of success, and his regular understudy Alex Iwobi is once again having a season to forget.
Following his arrival as a 17th-minute substitute against Manchester City, the Nigeria international had just 37 touches of the ball – seven fewer than Jordan Pickford – and failed to produce a single shot or key pass, as per SofaScore.
Since arriving on Merseyside for a whopping £34m back in 2019, Iwobi has found the back of the net on just six occasions in his 76 outings, illustrating how it may be time for Benitez to take a risk and try something new.
And with Lewis Dobbin at his disposal, he has the ideal opportunity to do just that. The 18-year-old gem has been a standout performer in Everton’s youth academy for many years now, impressing with David Unsworth’s U23s over the last six months.
“He’s going to be a top player, there’s absolutely no doubt about that,” Unsworth revealed in a recent interview with the Liverpool ECHO (as relayed by The Athletic).
Dobbin bagged his second goal of the campaign last time out against Brighton and Hove Albion in what was his best performance of 2021/22 so far, and he could be ready for his next challenge over the coming weeks; Benitez just needs to be brave enough to unleash him.