Arsenal’s decision to sell off Alex Iwobi to Everton in the summer of 2019 divided opinion. Observers who still had belief in his talent thought he was the wrong player to sell, his critics were happy to see him leave.
The critics had their reasons; In his four years at Arsenal after his debut for the senior side, the Nigeria international never really got the next level in his development. He was frustratingly inconsistent and his numbers were ridiculously low.
The other side of the debate about Iwobi’s place at Arsenal believes that he was a better option than most of the players who the club should have sold.
But what was the point of this debate anyway? Iwobi has been an Everton player since August 2019 to kick off another phase of his career.
He hasn’t lit up Goodison Park, at least not yet but he has not done badly either. After a fine start, Iwobi has been unsettled by the club’s bad patch, a change of manager and a hamstring injury. It was against Arsenal at Goodison Park that he picked up an injury in December and after just one game since he returned, he was thrown in from the start back at his former home of the Emirates Stadium.
It was a chance to show his former employers and fans of what they were missing but Iwobi fell flat on Sunday evening in London.
Iwobi played from the right of Everton’s attack and got their second chance of the game after they had taken an early lead. He received a pass from midfield but his effort was just outside the area was well over the bar.
He blazed another effort over from the edge of the penalty area after some hesitation on the ball-Arsenal fans would be familiar with that.
Those were his only two contributions to Everton in attack as his remaining act on the field was short passes to teammates.
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Defensively, he was found out as he failed to properly close down Bukayo Saka whose one-time cross was met by Edward Nketiah for Arsenal’s equaliser. It was a passive performance from Iwobi for 60 minutes before he was taken off for Bernard.
He is not solely to be blamed for how he played at the Emirates on Sunday. Iwobi has never been good from the right; he does not have the pace to cause any real danger especially against good sides and also lacks the defensive discipline to cover in defence. Carlo Ancelotti’s continuous use of the Nigerian in that role shows he is yet to get a full understanding of the player he has.
However, the regular fan or critic would not consider this when giving an opinion on any player. It’s a harsh world out there for players. Nobody cares. Nobody cared about the several factors that stalled Iwobi’s development at Arsenal.
No one will care when he starts being judged over his performances at Everton. A repeat of Sunday's performance, his head could be on the chopping block again.