On the eighth day of August 2019 which also coincided as the deadline day of the 2019/2020 Premier League season, one of Arsenal’s longest-serving players, Alex Iwobi, left his boyhood club in London for the North-west in England.
Iwobi’s career at Arsenal started when he was still at Primary school. He came through the ranks at Arsenal and made his first-team debut in a league cup win over Sheffield Wednesday in October 2015.
He later went on to make over 100 appearances for the Gunners, scoring just 15 goals, and providing 27 assists.
However, throughout his stay at the Emirates, Iwobi was more of a squad player as none of his managers trusted him enough.
Not that it was their fault, though, as Iwobi failed to deliver consistently, and that could be frustrating for managers.
But many felt his inability to provide excellent performances might have to do with the pressure of playing at a big club like Arsenal.
So after four years in the Arsenal first team, the Gunners decided to take the hard decision of selling an academy product. He was sold to Everton for a fee that could rise to £35m.
While Iwobi may have been disappointed to leave his boyhood club, it was a move that made sense for all parties except maybe Everton.
Arsenal got good money for a player that failed to fulfil potential while Iwobi moved to a club where there’s less pressure, and more chances.
However, since he moved to Merseyside, has anything changed in Iwobi’s performance? No, if one takes a look at how he has fared so far.
He missed Everton’s first two games due to his deadline day arrival. His first game came in the third league game of the season- 2-0 loss to Aston Villa at Villa Park.
Iwobi put that loss behind him as he scored his first goal in the following game which was a 4-2 win over Lincoln FC in the League Cup.
He backed up the performance with another goal in the 3-2 win over Wolves, and an assist in the win over Sheffield Wednesday.
But after then, things went south as Iwobi performance stalled with no goals or assist in his next 19 games. Much of the criticism levelled at Iwobi during his time at Arsenal was his lack of end product.
It was once again the similar case at Goodison Park with just two goals in 22 appearances for the Toffees this season.
Although, his situation was not helped with the position he played during the disastrous reign of Marco Silva.
The 23-year-old was played on the wings most of the time by the Portuguese tactician, which was a similar role he occupied during his time at the Emirates.
It is not a surprise that his best performance in an Everton shirt came in a 4-2-3-1 formation where he plays as the No 10.
Iwobi prefers playing behind the striker, but he has found himself out on the wings for most parts of his club career.
It probably has to do with managers not trusting him enough to occupy the No 10 role. For example, Silva preferred to play Gylfi Sigurdsson in Iwobi’s prefered position.
But despite Silvas change of tactics for almost every game, he was sacked following a 5-2 loss to Liverpool last December.
Silva’s sack gave Iwobi a chance for a fresh start under a new manager. Duncan Ferguson was appointed as interim manager before Carlo Ancelotti was appointed permanently.
However, Iwobi missed the chance to impress Ancelotti for the first time as he went off with a hamstring injury in the draw against Arsenal with the former AC Milan manager watching from the stands.
He subsequently missed Ancelotti’s first six games in charge and has struggled to break into the line up since he returned.
But Iwobi’s inability to break into Ancelotti’s line up has to do with the way the former Real Madrid sets up his time.
The Italian prefers to play a 4-4-2 formation, and the available position for Iwobi is the two wide positions as he does not have the qualities to play as a central midfielder.
In the game against Arsenal, the Italian tactician played Fabian Delph and Morgan Schneiderlin as his two central midfielders with Sigurdsson and Iwobi occupying the wide positions.
Even in games against Manchester United and Chelsea, Iwobi could not get into the starting line up with Sigurdsson Walcott, and Bernard preferred as wingers.
Iwobi will have to mould his game as a winger to play in the current Everton side. This opinion is shared by the Athletic’s Everton Correspondent, Gwlad Tidings who believes Iwobi will have to adapt his game as a winger if he wants to feature in Ancelotti’s plans.
“I think he’s been one of the biggest fall guys from the change of formation. Because in a 4-2-3-1, I think he’s best as a No.10.
“With a 4-4-2 not having a No.10, you couldn’t see him in one of the two central midfield roles,” Tidings said on his Podcast
“I don’t think he’s disciplined enough, or strong enough as a central midfielder. He kind of has to go in one of the wide positions,” he added.
While Iwobi may feel he is more comfortable as a No 10, it’s time he adapts his game as a winger because managers don’t trust him enough to play as a midfielder.
After all, Arsene Wenger, Unai Emery, Marco Silva and Carlo Ancelotti can’t be all wrong. It’s time for Iwobi to sit up, or else he’ll end up as another player that failed to reach his full potential.