Alex Iwobi says he has become a “new man” at Everton – and the forward is playing with “more hunger” than at any stage of his embryonic career.
The 23-year-old joined Everton from Arsenal in the closing hours of last summer’s transfer window and has featured 17 times in the Premier League this term.
His return from a six-week injury layoff last Saturday coincided with Everton’s dramatic 3-2 success against Watford – a victory which Iwobi reckons can turn his team’s fortunes for the campaign.
Iwobi had been sidelined since sustaining a hamstring injury against Arsenal on the day Carlo Ancelotti was appointed Everton manager in December.
Ancelotti insists his team’s spirit is chiefly responsible for them claiming 14 points from the Italian's opening seven games in charge.
And it is that same quality Iwobi has picked up on since swapping north London for Merseyside six months ago.
“This is a whole different game for me,” Iwobi told evertontv.
“The Evertonians here, not just the players but the fans and staff… everyone wants to give 100 per cent.
“I am enjoying that side of the game.
“It has made me a new man in that sense.
“I wasn’t particularly like that [before coming to Everton] but I have had to buy into it and show more hunger when I am playing and towards the fans.
“It is good for me.
“Here, I have to focus tactically when we do not have the ball.
“I have to track back a bit more, carry out more defensive duties.
“No matter who I play for, I give 100 per cent.
“Everton are making me do that and I am enjoying it.”
Iwobi had started five straight Premier League matches before going down injured after 11 minutes of his Goodison Park reunion with Arsenal.
He was part of the team which beat Chelsea and drew the following week at Manchester United as caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson breathed fresh life into Everton’s campaign.
lwobi’s Blues experience to date, however, has also featured the bitter disappointments of last-minute defeats in away games against Brighton & Hove Albion and Leicester City.
Additionally, an encouraging Everton display at home to Newcastle United in the final game before Iwobi's return yielded only one point after the visitors scored twice in stoppage time.
The Nigeria international, then, believes the manner of Everton’s win at Watford was especially significant.
Ancelotti’s side was trailing by two goals after 42 minutes but Yerry Mina’s double sent Everton into half-time level. And despite being a man down following Fabian Delph’s 71st-minute red card, Everton turned the game on its head when Theo Walcott stroked home at the end of a lightning final-minute breakaway.
The extra two points banked following Walcott’s goal nudged Everton up to ninth ahead of Saturday’s lunchtime Goodison meeting with Crystal Palace.
“It shows we have the fighting spirit and character to come back no matter the circumstances,” added Iwobi, who made 149 appearances for Arsenal following his senior debut aged 19 in October 2015.
“That we can fight and get a result.
“We will take a lot of positives from the game, even though we went 2-0 down.
“The way we won it with 10 men, the quality of that counter, was special.
“And sometimes you need a bit of luck.
“We’ve not had any for the majority of the season, so this could be a turning point for us.
“Winning how we did will definitely give us more confidence going into the next game.”
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