Why Iwobi could have been vital to Silva’s Everton survival


The Portuguese was dismissed by the Merseyside club on Thursday, but could things have gone differently?

After so much speculation following Everton’s 5-2 thrashing by Liverpool, Marco Silva was sacked on Thursday evening after 18 months in charge.

Having seen the Toffees walloped in part one of their biggest game of the season, Farhad Moshiri opted to jettison the Portuguese coach with the Merseyside club sitting in 18th in the Premier league.

In isolation, the defeat at Anfield was the norm: Everton haven’t won at the home of their city rivals since 1999, while their last victory in this fixture came in 2010.

Nothing about Wednesday night was unusual, but it was the accumulation of poor results that forced the hand of the decision-makers at the club.

Take into consideration the heavy defeat came after Jurgen Klopp kept Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson out of the starting line-up; the German tactician didn’t even need two of his best three forwards to inflict Silva’s eighth loss of the campaign.

Be that as it may, Everton probably didn’t deserve such a hiding, with the result not a fair reflection of the encounter – a characteristic of their season so far.

With the away side 2-1 down, moments after Michael Keane halved the deficit, Alex Iwobi played in Dominic Calvert-Lewin who fluffed his lines, partly due to Virgil van Dijk’s putting him off as he shot.

In addition, the Nigerian attacking midfielder played in Moise Kean in the final 10 ten minutes, only for the struggling youngster to drag his effort just wide of Adrian’s goal.  At the time, Liverpool led 4-2 and a halving the deficit (for the second time on the night) will have prompted a grandstand finish.

Iwobi was central to how Everton played and was their primary creative outlet at Anfield. Notably, it was also his delivery into the box that led to Keane scoring the Toffees’ first.

Wednesday night was the first time Klopp’s side have conceded twice in the league this season. In addition, with expected goals of 2.41 to 1.76, it is the highest any opponent has managed against the league leaders after 15 games.

However, Silva’s charges still found a way to let in five goals, with their defending largely non-existent on the night.

The Portuguese clearly had problems at both ends of the pitch; his side’s soft underbelly incessantly let them down in games, while they haven’t fared better in the attacking third. They’ve allowed 27 goals, only three teams have let in more, while scoring just 16 times, placing them among the worst five scoring sides.

Moise Kean Everton 2019-20

Their defensive shape seemed confusing and their costly defensive errors were often punished, evidenced by how Liverpool scored four from five first-half attempts in the derby.

Further forward, the inability of their forwards and attacking midfielders to contribute more frequently has predictably contributed to their dire return.

Perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise, though.

Calvert-Lewin may put himself about nicely, but isn’t likely to become the prolific frontman Evertonians want. Cenk Tosun seldom played under Silva as he was seen as nothing but a back-up option, while Kean hasn’t delivered on his promise so far – the trio have scored three goals among them and the Portuguese boss lacked a truly reliable frontman.

Richarlison, with five goals in 15 appearances, is the Blues’ top scorer but his ratio of one goal in three wasn’t frequent enough to give the side a higher position, and he wasn’t aided by the quartet of Iwobi, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Bernard and Theo Walcott, who have scored four goals in total.

Alex Iwobi - Everton

After his big-money purchase in the summer, Iwobi was meant to play a vital role in taking the blue half of Merseyside to the next level, as they nurture ambitions to end in the top six.

However, he hasn’t contributed enough by measure of goals and assists. 

As already mentioned, the Nigerian has scored just once in the league since swapping London Colney for Finch Farm, while registering zero assists. 

As things deteriorated in the final weeks of the Portuguese coach’s reign, he needed his players to produce more in the final third…but Iwobi wasn’t his man.

And that’s no fault of the Arsenal academy graduate, whose game has never been about the shiny statistics that get people talking.

While there weren’t enough goals by the strikers, the weak return from Everton’s supporting cast was equally contributory to Silva’s issues.

Everton's Alex Iwobi and Bournemouth's Philip Billing

Be that as it may, it’s interesting to note that the Toffees’ expected goals, expected goals conceded and expected points numbers shows they should be way higher in the standings.

While they’ve scored 16, they are underperforming their expected goals by nearly six (only Watford have a higher number by underachieving their xG by around seven), while they have expected goals conceded of around 20, seven more than they have allowed, in reality.

Consequently, their expected points of around 22 is eight lower than their actual number at the moment, 14.

It shows that Everton should be in eighth spot as opposed to 18th-place, truly highlighting how unfair results were to Silva, who visibly knew he was on borrowed time in recent days.

The shake of the head by club chairman Bill Kenwright on Sunday, moments after VAR ruled that Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho was onside, was telling. The Toffees had just lost their eighth league game of the season, after an encounter where their performance arguably deserved a point.

It’s was the story of Silva’s last months in which he saw his side were unlucky to lose points in games they deserved a bit more. The reality, however, is that Everton are in the bottom three after 15 games, the first time in 20 years.

The Portuguese has paid the price for Everton’s worst start in two decades, but it could have different if Iwobi and his teammates were more effective at both ends of the pitch… and that’ll be a bugbear for the club’s next boss.


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