Alex Iwobi is facing a huge fight to save his Everton career amid claims by former Leeds United striker Noel Whelan that the Blues’ form is “very worrying” without Richarlison.
Speaking with Football Insider, Whelan has noted how the Goodison Park natives are too reliant on Richarlison, having lost a third successive Premier League fixture on Saturday as the Brazilian served the final match of his three-game suspension.
It was the first time since November 2006 that Carlo Ancelotti has suffered defeats in three-straight league fixtures, with Everton also now winless in four after losing to Southampton, Newcastle and Manchester United following October’s 2-2 draw with Liverpool.
Everton’s failure to secure all three points without Richarlison is not a trend that has developed under Ancelotti’s watch, either, as the Merseyside outfit could only secure draws with Huddersfield Town and Tottenham Hotspur while losing to West Ham during Marco Silva’s tenure.
Whelan feels Richarlison’s style of play is what makes the 23-year-old so important to Everton’s form, especially this season, as the Brazilian is key to allowing Dominic Calvert-Lewin and James Rodriguez to thrive.
“It is very worrying,” Whelan said, when asked if Everton supporters should be concerned by Ancelotti stating that Richarlison is impossible to replace.
“Richarlison is so important to that side and when teams become reliant on one player, it is a big concern. The Newcastle result was a shocking defeat. They should have been getting a point at least out of that game, but they lose that and then get beat by United as well.
“Richarlison has pace, power, intelligence on the ball and he is aggressive as well. He is the player that brings the jigsaw together at Everton. Without him you do not get the best out of Dominic Calvert-Lewin or James Rodriguez.”
Whelan criticising Everton for becoming too reliant on Richarlison will come as a major indication to Iwobi that he faces a fight to save his Goodison Park future, just over a year on from being signed for a potential £34million from Arsenal by Silva.
The Nigerian, who earns £50,000-per-week, was given a chance to stamp his mark on being Richarlison’s deputy against Southampton as the Brazilian served the first match of his suspension, but Ancelotti saw enough – or rather a lack of – from Iwobi after 45 minutes to replace the winger at half-time.
It was the first Premier League fixture this term that Iwobi has started and while he went on to feature from the bench against Newcastle and Manchester Untied, the 24-year-old remains without a top-flight goal to his name since his second of 32 league appearances for Everton.
Richarlison’s importance to the side, on the other hand, is as clear as day as despite missing their last three Premier League matches, the former Watford attacker continues to rank second for total shots (11), successful dribbles (16), ground duels won (43), times fouled (14) and third for big chances created (1), per SofaScore, among all Everton players.
Ancelotti will be hopeful that Richarlison can provide that same level of output upon his return to the line-up, but even more hopeful that others – such as Iwobi – can step up and ease the concerns of the likes of Whelan.