5 Thoughts on the Stevenage game

Paul Thomas

After sneaking past League One side Stevenage 2-1 after extra time I pick out some of the key talking points from the game.

1. Gerard Deulofeu
It seems strange to hear shouts of "come on Gerard" at Goodison rather than Anfield, but the Barcelona youngster turned out an impressive debut. It is clear the teenager has bags of talent and skill. He was never afraid to take on the full-back and put deliveries into the box and capped his display with a well taken goal. He did appear to get frustrated at times and was a little bit lightweight when knocked off the ball. But that can improve with time and he has certainly played his way into contention for Saturday’s game at Cardiff.

2. Arouna Kone.
Oh dear. I know it is early days and not the time for knee-jerk reactions but Kone’s display against Stevenage was woeful. Not only did he miss three gilt edged chances, his first touch was terrible and he struggled to win a header. His performance brought back worrying memories of Brett Angel, yes it was that bad. It is still only early days and he was hardly alone in being below-par on Wednesday, so most Blues are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt for now. But with Nikica Jelavic continuing to struggle in front of goal the Ivorian needs to improve his form and quick, otherwise we are going to have a serious goalscoring problem.

3. Reliance on Ross Barkley
The 19-year-old has made a barnstorming start to the season and has earned a call-up to the England squad on the back of his recent displays. He once again looked head and shoulders above the rest of the team on Wednesday, but it is worrying to see how much we have come to rely on him. The rest of the side constantly looked for Barkley for inspiration and on the whole he delivered. However, we have to be careful not to place too much expectation on his shoulders so soon into his career.

4. John Stones continued to shine
While senior players such as Leon Osman and Arouna Kone flattered to deceive another one of the club’s young stars, John Stones, appeared unfazed by the step up to senior competitive action. The lad from Barnsley, who shot to fame with that penalty in pre-season against Juventus, started alongside Phil Jagielka and Johnny Heitinga and did not look out of place. Martinez’s passing game appeared to suit the 19-year-old, who was calm and composed on the ball. Like Deulofeu he may find himself starting Premier League games sooner rather than later.

5. Lack of squad depth
Like the Leeds game last year, Wednesday’s match exposed the paucity of Everton’s options beyond the first XI. The likes of Bryan Oviedo and Steven Naismith are simply not good enough while the poor displays of experienced players like Osman, Kone and Heitinga was alarming. The late intervention of Marouane Fellaini ensured Everton got away with it on Wednesday, but if he departs for Manchester United then Martinez needs both quality and quantity if we are to succeed this season.

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