How Everton's summer signings have helped bring out the best in Iwobi


Everton acted smartly in the summer market to improve their defensive solidity. The Toffees conceded 66 league goals in the Premier League last season, the fifth most in the division, so providing greater protection to goalkeeper Jordan Pickford was of paramount importance. 


The plan has worked well so far. No team has conceded fewer goals than Everton (9) in England's top tier this term, and while Pickford is still the division's busiest goalkeeper, there is a greater resolve to the side that will only improve in time. Indeed, Conor Coady and James Tarkowski are two Premier League experienced centre-backs, and are commendable captures for Frank Lampard's side. 


The return of Idrissa Gueye and capture of Amadou Onana means they are incredibly competitive in the middle of the park, but crucially, the addition of the pair in Lampard's preferred 4-3-3 grants Alex Iwobi the chance to get forward from midfield to help support the offensive. 


Eyebrows were certainly rasied when Everton spent big to land Iwobi from Arsenal in 2019, particularly with the Nigerian never really setting the world alight during his time with the Gunners. Even in the years following his arrival, Iwobi did struggle for form in the setup, that in part due to managerial uncertainty at Goodison Park. 


Fast-forward to the present day, and it appears Lampard has found a system that does bring out the best in the 26-year-old. While previously viewed as a winger, Iwobi has adjusted well to the demands of playing central midfield in the current Everton setup. Given the work of Gueye and Onana off the ball, this allows for Iwobi to wreak havoc in the final third. Unfortunately for Everton, their attack does still need some refining. 


Only Wolves (3), Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest (both 7) have scored fewer goals than Everton (8) in England's top tier this term, with the departure of Richarlison and the concerns over Dominic Calvert-Lewin's fitness hindering the Toffees in front of goal. The addition of Neal Maupay has eased the rush to get the latter back to match fitness, yet the summer arrival has never really convinced at this level. 


That being said, once the Everton attack does click into gear, then supporters can feel confident that Iwobi will be the lynchpin to knit frontline together. He has made 18 key passes, all from open play, in the Premier League this season, that more than any Everton player, and the eighth most in the division. From open play alone, that rises to fourth. Goalscoring chances created is a metric led by Kevin De Bruyne, and while Iwobi is unlikely to come close to matching the Belgian's return, provided the Manchester City star can stay fit, Everton are least have a creative star they can call upon to ensure they enjoy a more comfortable campaign. 


That's not to say that Iwobi didn't provide the chances for teammates last season - only Demarai Gray (42) made more key passes in 2021/22 - but with the former now halfway to matching last season's total of 36, it's evident he has been granted greater licence to aid the offensive process. 


How Everton's summer signings have helped bring out the best in Iwobi


What's impressive yet, is that he has already bettered his 2020/21 return (16), and that 19.1% of his total goalscoring chances created for Everton in the Premier League have come across nine league appearances this season. As such, it's no shock to see that Iwobi has registerd three assists already in 2022/23, a return bettered only by De Bruyne (9), Bukayo Saka and Bernardo Silva (both 4), though a figure that would certainly have been higher had his teammates not been so profligate. Everton do boast the second worst conversion rate (6.5%) in the Premier League after all. 


However, while he does provide that attacking thrust from midfield for Lampard's side, Iwobi is also prepared to get stuck in as noted by a return of 2.1 tackles per 90, and has won possession in the midfield third the fifth most times (37) in the Premier League this season. Considering Everton have the fourth lowest possession average (42%) in England's top tier, every player does need to pull their weight, particularly in midfield, with Iwobi aiding Onana and Gueye in the middle of the park, which in turn allows Everton to spring forward quickly once they win the ball back. 


On the back of a rocky 2021/22 campaign, Everton have made a solid start to the season. A narrow defeat to Manchester United on Sunday night ended a six-game unbeaten streak, and they sit 12th in the table after nine games, something Everton fans may well have taken at this stage. Once everything does fall into place at Goodison Park, they'll be a far tougher proposition for opponents as the season wears on, yet the key is getting the goals that'll ensure they avoid another relegation scrap. 


With Iwobi creating chances freely, it's surely only a matter of time before Everton begin to really haul themselves up the table as both he and the Toffees benefit from the use of a 4-3-3 alongside Onana and Gueye in the middle of the park.

How Everton's summer signings have helped bring out the best in Iwobi