Everton’s Richarlison problem could be bigger than initially feared because Alex Iwobi is frustrated.

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His unique brand of skill, intelligence, energy, power and aim is often an effective weapon in the blues arsenal – and they would be in the league for the first time in this term without him.

One of the biggest questions for Everton on his way to an important game in Southampton was how to replace Richarlison. His red card against Liverpool was seen as a great moment because he is so crucial to the game for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Everton still has to find a replacement if Richarlison is not available.

But this time it didn’t work out.

You can understand why the decision was made. The Nigerian international was particularly impressive when he was introduced in place of his Brazilian team-mate against Brighton before the international break.

It was always a difficult task for the person whose coat fell on his head. In this case it was Alex Iwobi.

The 24-year-old crossed just behind Dominic Calvert-Lewin a few minutes later, before shooting inwards and firing a shot himself that was deflected for a corner – and all this before the 15th minute was over.

The most frustrating thing for the crowd at Everton will have been that the South Coast winger actually had a strong start.

In the first 15 minutes of the game, Iwobi found plenty of room on the flank and was already almost behind in the fourth minute, but Michael Keane’s pass was too strong.

From that point on, however, there was nothing to be seen from the striker’s side in the attacking direction.

Everton was generally struggling, but especially from the left side they got little output. Iwobi was finally withdrawn at halftime, as he made no key passes and was expropriated twice in the first 45 minutes.

Worryingly, things didn’t get much better in the second minute.

The absence of Richarlison was all too apparent to Everton fans. It was never easy to replace his qualities in the team, but Ancelotti’s team made the task seem almost impossible in the first half.

It was hardly a surprise when Bernard was introduced at half-time to see if his tight control and eye for a pass could perhaps break through Southampton’s rigid defense.

Well, actually, he only had a little more than 10 minutes of half-time on the wing before Anthony Gordon came in on the left.

He is a very different player from his compatriot, but he has shown a great partnership with Lucas Digne on the left before. Could they team up again to bring Everton back into the game?

As it turned out, it was all too little, too late for the guests.

The blues were very fluid in terms of positions throughout the second half as Ancelotti tried to find a system that would allow his team to win even one point, but hope was really lost before Lucas Digne’s red card in the second half.

Many Everton supporters were keen to get the young player into the game before kick-off. He is one of the club’s most exciting young players and has proven this on several occasions this season, particularly in the League Cup.

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