Everton knew that defeat against Wolverhampton Wanderers at Molineux on Saturday afternoon would be detrimental to the club’s hopes of preserving Premier League status this season.
Having yet again failed to craft seasonal fortunes capable of ensuring water is trod above the depths of the divisional table, the Toffees will have to wait for the closing day of the 2022/23 season after winning just seven of their 37 games this term.
Prior to the draw against the Old Gold, manager Sean Dyche knew that victory would have secured a place in next year’s Premier League season if Leeds United fail to win their forthcoming fixture away against West Ham United tomorrow afternoon, but now, should the Whites achieve that elusive goal, Everton will sink into peril ahead of the final day of the term.
Yerry Mina restored parity at the death and ensured his outfit have avoided defeat in three of the past four matches, lauded as an “absolute colossus” by The Athletic’s Patrick Boyland, but it was dynamic midfielder Alex Iwobi who truly stole the show and must be utilised effectively next week against Bournemouth to ensure the drop is avoided.
How did Iwobi perform vs Wolves?
Iwobi signed for Everton for no small sum of £34m in 2019 after being deemed expendable at Arsenal; it’s fair to say, he flattered to deceive across his first few seasons on Merseyside.
As per WhoScored, the 26-year-old failed to record an average seasonal rating higher than a lowly 6.58 across his first three years with his current club, with journalist David Prentice even branding him “embarrassing” after a shoddy performance in 2021.
However, a tactical tweak when the outfit were still under the stewardship of Frank Lampard – who was dismissed and replaced by Dyche in January – has shifted the ace into a more central position, having taken to the flanks for his career prior to the shift.
And against Wolves, he once again showed why he is flourishing in his newfound role, as he was unable to add to the nine assists he boasts to his name this year, but produced a robust and reliable display once again.
In Wolverhampton, the £120k-per-week gem recorded a match rating of 7.7 – as per Sofascore – which was the highest of any player competing, and deservedly so, with Boyland hailing him for putting in a “real shift“.
Making 58 touches, Iwobi won 83% of his duels, completed 76% of his passes, made one key pass, took four shots, hit the target twice and won his one dribble attempt, while making four interceptions and two tackles.
He embodied the energy and intensity Dyche will demand from his players as they scramble to secure their top-flight status, and with further sustained stellar showings, Iwobi could yet make his biggest contribution against the Cherries next week.