The former Nigeria international excelled in a wing-back role for Spartak Moscow on Sunday
After an encouraging first performance as a wing-back for Everton against Fulham last weekend, Alex Iwobi was brought crashing down to earth against Leeds United on Saturday.
The Nigeria international has struggled to assert himself within Carlo Ancelotti’s plans this season, but after being reconfigured as a right wing-back against Fulham, he delivered one of his finest performances of the season, completing six dribbles in a showing that barely suggested he was operating in an unfamiliar role.
Against Leeds, however, it was a different story, as the wideman—this time positioned on the left with Tom Davies on the right—looked much less comfortable and struggled to deal with Raphinha and Luke Ayling.
If Iwobi is planning to re-invent himself as a wing-back on a longer-term basis, he could do a lot worse than to cast his eyes over to Russia, where Victor Moses is continuing his fine work in similar role.
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The 29-year-old’s career was going nowhere at Chelsea before Antonio Conte arrived at the club, with the wideman having struggled to impress a series of managers after arriving from Wigan Athletic.
Time on loan away from Stamford Bridge did little to help Moses’s position in West London, until he too was reconfigured into a wing-back by Conte.
Moses, like Iwobi, won over many doubters in the way he adapted seamlessly to a new position and a new role, and he was influential as Chelsea won the Premier League title in the 2016-17 season.
Indeed, it was the finest spell of Moses’s career, as he also reached the FA Cup final in 2017 before winning it 12 months later.
Now on loan at Spartak Moscow, having been deemed surplus to requirements by Blues boss Frank Lampard, Moses is again demonstrating the qualities in a wing-back role that Iwobi would do well to take note of.
Against Rotor Volgograd on Sunday, the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations winner starred in a left wing-back role—again, like Iwobi, having been switched to the opposite flank—and played his part in a 2-0 victory for Domenico Tedesco’s side.
Despite playing in a nominally deeper role, Moses was a key attacking threat—he created one goalscoring opportunity and hit the target with both of his shots—and also completed two successful dribbles as Volgograd struggled to contain him.
“Great performance from the boys and a massive three points today,” the master of reinvention wrote on his Twitter handle after the match, and he’s clearly enjoying life in Russia where—not for the first time in his career—he’s tackling a new challenge head on.
Iwobi, so celebrated early in his career as he came through the ranks at Arsenal, arguably has more natural talent and a higher ‘ceiling’ to his game than Moses did, but he would do well to look to his former international colleague as an example of how to embrace change when things aren’t going your way.
Iwobi had a tough time of things against Leeds, but his performance against Fulham suggests that—for now at least—this experiment is one worth persevering with for Ancelotti.