Carlo Ancelotti must unleash Gylfi Sigurdsson against Manchester City in the FA Cup this Saturday after the Everton midfielder returned to training following an injury.
That’s according to The Athletic’s Patrick Boyland, who has noted that the Iceland international rejoined the Toffees’ first team as they prepared at Finch Farm this week.
Sigurdsson was forced to miss his side’s 2-1 defeat at home to Burnley last weekend due to an ankle knock he had sustained against Chelsea during the previous Monday’s 2-0 loss.
Burnley marked the first team against which the 31-year-old had failed to feature at any stage since November 28, with minutes awarded in 21 straight matches across all competitions.
Ancelotti sought to address the absence of the former Swansea City playmaker with Alex Iwobi deployed in a central attacking midfield role, having urged the Nigerian to name his preferred position after he seemingly hit out on social media earlier this month.
“I read the post. I want to speak to him, of course,” Ancelotti said, via quotes shared by The Guardian. “I want to know his preferred position because usually I want to put a player on the pitch where they are comfortable to play, not where they are uncomfortable to play.
“If he has an idea of where he prefers to play, I have to know, I want to know. I would be delighted to know his preferred position and I’ll put him in his preferred position for sure, no doubt.”
However, Iwobi’s return to a central position against Burnley only lasted half an hour before the 24-year-old was moved back out onto the wing, having struggled to deliver any real impact.
Iwobi ended the first half against Burnley with one key pass to his name while Tom Davies and Andre Gomes created two goalscoring opportunities each from the wider central midfield positions in Ancelotti’s plans, per WhoScored.
A move to the wing saw Iwobi create one additional chance after the break, the same output as Richarlison, Gomes, Michael Keane, Seamus Coleman and three times less than that of left-back Lucas Digne.
News that Sigurdsson is back in training must now see that Ancelotti recalls the £100,000-per-week talent at the first available opportunity, as he will need his most creative options on the pitch if Everton are to secure a result against Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola’s runaway Premier League leaders are taking more shots per top-flight game this term than any other side, with 15.5 on average, but are also allowing the fewest among all 20 clubs with just seven – almost half of the tally allowed by Everton (13.1), per WhoScored.
The Toffees also rank 16th in the league for shots taken per game with just 9.8 – only Burnley (9.3), Crystal Palace (8.6), Sheffield United (8.4) and West Bromwich Albion (8.2) are testing opposing goalkeepers less frequently.
Part of the problem for Everton this season has been a lack of creativity, with James Rodriguez (1.7), Digne (1.5) and Sigurdsson (1.1) the only players to have averaged more than a single key pass per game.
With Rodriguez still sidelined with a calf injury, Ancelotti will surely have to unleash Sigurdsson from the off and trust in the maestro who Danny Murphy described as being “technically gifted” and what Everton needed for their link-up play earlier in the season.
AND in other news, Everton are monitoring a £17m ace dubbed the next Erling Haaland…