Gylfi Sigurdsson seriously betrayed Carlo Ancelotti with an ineffective performance as Everton beat Wolverhampton Wanderers 2-1 on Tuesday night.
Ancelotti trusted Sigurdsson with serving as the Toffees’ false-nine beside James Rodriguez at Molineux in the absence of top-scorer Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who failed to overcome a hamstring injury.
Richarlison and Cenk Tosun were also only deemed to be fit enough for seats on the bench, leaving goals from Alex Iwobi and centre-back Michael Keane to prove the difference and lift the Merseyside outfit back inside the top-four of the Premier League table.
Sigurdsson is no stranger to playing at striker with the £16m-rated maestro frequently tasked with leading the line for his national side, yet the Iceland ace lacked his shooting boots against Wolves.
Too often during the midweek affair, Sigurdsson dropped deeper and deeper in search of possession to correct for his side’s lack of creativity, with a midfield pivot of Abdoulaye Doucoure and Tom Davies bringing energy and determination to the engine room but no forward vision.
Davies could, at times, be blamed for overplaying things in the centre of the park and with a heavy touch, he often allowed Wolves to apply pressure, but his failings failed to compare with Sigurdsson’s tame efforts with his back to the goal.
The 31-year-old lacked his usual link-up ability with no out-and-out striker to target and left Iwobi to carry the brunt of the attacking responsibilities, who ultimately returned Everton’s opening goal when the Nigerian’s cleanly-struck effort deflected in off Conor Coady after a quick flow of play from James Rodriguez and Lucas Digne.
Ancelotti noted after the game that he felt Rodriguez and Sigurdsson “created problems” for Wolves through their positioning, yet the Italian must surely have expected to see more from the Toffees’ £45m former record signing.
Sigurdsson recorded just 26 touches at Molineux and never ventured inside the Wolves penalty area. He lost all four of his duels, turned over possession eight times and failed to complete his only attempted dribble, per SofaScore.
Despite being tasked with playing as a false-nine against Wolves, the £100,000-per-week playmaker also failed to register a single shot, offered just one key ball from 14 accurate passes, misplaced one of his two crosses and was dribbled past once without making a single successful tackle, to earn a 6.4 match rating – the second-worst ranking among those who started for Everton.
Sigurdsson has generally been playing at a far higher level when fielded in midfield this season, with the Reading product taking 36.1 touches, 0.8 shots, 1.3 key passes, win 2.0 of his duels and offer 0.9 successful tackles per Premier League appearance so far.
Ancelotti will be glad to have seen Everton win at Wolves having been forced to be resourceful in his team selection, but will no doubt be hoping to see Calvert-Lewin be passed fit for Sunday’s trip to Aston Villa – should the game go ahead.
AND in other news, Carlo Ancelotti must cash-in on a £6.5m-rated outcast unfit for Everton…