Alex Iwobi is promising a “mentally strong” and highly-motivated Everton will cross Stanley Park for Wednesday’s Premier League meeting with Liverpool.
Forward Iwobi joined Everton from Arsenal on August’s transfer deadline day and the Nigeria international admits he is savouring the prospect of his first Merseyside derby.
The 23-year-old, though, insists the points at stake are occupying the forefront of his mind, over and above the identity of Everton's opponents, following Sunday’s hurtful defeat at Leicester City.
Iwobi came back into Everton’s team for the clash with Leicester and was integral to Marco Silva’s rejigged formation swiftly clicking into gear.
He slid in Djibril Sidibe to create Everton’s goal for Richarlison – a carbon copy of the move which won the Blues’ game at Southampton last month – and worked furiously to give his team balance and attacking thrust.
Iwobi nevertheless drew little comfort from his own display in light of Everton’s stoppage-time loss, preferring to switch his focus to the midweek contest at Anfield.
“Going into that game we have to take the positives [from the Leicester performance] but also learn from our mistakes,” Iwobi told evertontv.
“We cannot let our heads drop and we will go again.
“We will be mentally strong and prepared for the match. You want to come out on top in a derby, there cannot be any greater motivation, and I am sure we will pick up our heads and be ready to go again.
“The team did very well [at Leicester], we were just unfortunate with the result.
“I have played in London derbies and I am excited to see what happens in my first Merseyside one.
“I felt I did well against Leicester but the main thing is I want to help the team win, so I can’t say I was pleased [with my own performance].”
Iwobi started wide on the right against Leicester, habitually moving infield to allow Frenchman Sidibe room to motor down the flank.
Everton’s ploy, which featured a three-man defence and Dominic Calvert-Lewin spearheading the Blues' attack, frustrated second-placed Leicester for long periods.
Moreover, with Sidibe and fellow wing-back Lucas Digne prominent, manager Silva’s side carved out a number of openings.
“The manager tells me to get into space and receive the ball in pockets so I can hurt the opponents’ defence and I was able to do that,” said Iwobi, who has played 12 top-flight-matches for Everton, starting seven.
“I have linked up with Djibril in training. Every time I get the ball he is telling me he will be making the run, so I just have to find him.
“Against Southampton, we did the same thing [for the goal].
“Our relationship is developing and we have to keep it going and produce more so we can win games.
“It was so frustrating [how the Leicester game ended] when we stuck to the plan and it went well.
“We have to dust ourselves down because it’s a tough derby coming next and we need to get ready for it.”
Iwobi added: “The manager wanted a reaction after the Norwich game and we produced that – it was small margins which decided the game.
“We are professional footballers, we have to prepare and be mentally strong.
“We worked on the plan in training, now we have to go back and prepare for the next game.”
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