At the Craven Cottage last Sunday, Alex Iwobi was handed just his second Premier League start of the season for Everton in their gameweek 9 encounter with Fulham. The Nigerian forward, who is comfortable as either a left winger or an attacking midfielder, was however deployed in an unfamiliar position in game - right wing-back.
The Toffees boss Carlo Ancelotti made an unexpected tweak to his tactics in the lunchtime encounter on Sunday after failing to record a win in their previous four league games. He switched to a back three while having Lucas Digne and Iwobi provide support from the left and right wing-back positions respectively.
It wasn't the first time the Nigerian international was getting the role as he had once had to give in a shift there for former club Arsenal. Nonetheless, Iwobi gave his Italian coach a reason to trust him with the role going forward following his impressive display against the West London side.
Per WhoScored, he completed a game-high six dribbles, sent in five crosses, made two tackles, two interceptions and two clearances.
Alex Iwobi was quite impressive for Everton at RWB today.— Soar Super Eagles (@SSE_NGA) November 22, 2020
- 90 minutes played
- 75 touches
- 88% pass success (42)
- 5 accurate long balls
- 5 succ. dribbles
- 2 tackles made
- 2 interceptions
- 2 clearances
That run for Everton's second 😍 pic.twitter.com/EmYqvDsKqx
No doubt, a good display for a player who is only a makeshift wing-back. But Iwobi wants to be more than just a makeshift as he has now admitted to be hoping to evolve in the role and possibly seal his place in Ancelotti's XI through that position.
“I am a forward-thinking player, I like to get on the ball and express myself,” Iwobi told Everton TV.
“I played right wing-back a couple of times with Arsenal, they wanted me to bomb on and, like I was doing in the first half at Fulham, get crosses in and run down the line with the ball. It is not something I have done a lot but anywhere I am told to play, I try to do my best.
“Ben [Godfrey] and James [Rodriguez] and Doucs [Doucoure] were talking to me and made it more comfortable. Sometimes, with my defensive position, I wouldn’t know where to be but with them helping and talking it was a lot easier.
“I will take the positives but there are still things I have to learn if I am going to play in this position, especially defensively.
“At least, for me, playing right wing-back, the manager has in his mind, I can play anywhere on the left and right and in the middle.
“Anywhere he wants me to play, I will be able to do that job. And wherever I am playing I will give 100 per cent for the Club.”
Everton notably started the season quite powerfully (seven consecutive wins across all competitions) so much so that it wouldn't have been out of place if one bets on them finishing in the top six of the league at the end of the season. But they faced a big setback afterwards, failing to win in any of their subsequent four league games (1D 3L) before Sunday's fortunate 3-2 win at Craven Cottage restored calm. Iwobi believes the Toffees can 'kick on' from the most recent victory and get back right on track in their campaign.
.“It was important for us to kick-start our season, we hadn’t won in a while so the main thing was to get that result and use it as as motivation going into the next game," Iwobi added.
“Fulham changed their tactics for the second half and made it difficult for us.
“But we were able to withstand the pressure and come out with three points, so it was a good result.
“We started the season really well but the past couple of games weren’t good.
“This will be great for us to kick on and do well for the season.”