Everton Vs. Norwich City: 5 Thoughts

Jan Kruger

Barry inspires, McGeady checks in, and the squad is tested to its limits.

1. Gareth Barry inspires.

Whether or not he was aware of Roy Hodgson's presence in the Goodison Park crowd on Saturday, Gareth Barry put in a performance against Norwich that will surely have impressed the England boss.  The veteran midfielder has been arguably Everton's most important signing this season, and his strength, vision and composure on the ball stood out once again at the weekend.

Barry completed more passes than anyone bar Phil Jagielka, and along with James McCarthy and Leon Osman managed to dominate the undermanned Canaries midfield before a late change in formation by Roberto Martinez. The midfielder even capped his performance with a terrific, swerving strike from 25 yards to put Everton 1-0 up. The Blues will surely make the signing of Barry a priority come the end of the season, but can England afford to overlook him for the World Cup?

2. Stones is cocky in the best way possible.

Antolin Alcaraz's injury was offset by the return of Phil Jagielka, but it still meant that Everton were made to start with their fourth different centre back partnership in a month. Fortunately Jagielka was ably supported by 18-year-old John Stones, who is quickly cementing his reputation as one of the Toffees' most exciting talents.

Already Stones demonstrates an admirable arrogance on the ball, and there is an assurance to his game that belies his lack of first team experience. His confidence landed him in trouble on a couple of occasions against Norwich, but such is his pace and strength that recovery is rarely an issue.

3. Injuries test the squad to its limits.

Centre back wasn't the only position in which absences have hit Everton recently. Nikica Jelavic's proposed transfer to Hull means that Apostolos Vellios is currently the only fit deputy to Romelu Lukaku up front, and a glance at the bench against Norwich showed Steven Naismith and Magaye Gueye as the Toffees' only other potential attacking changes.

Gerard Deulofeu may soon return to boost Roberto Martinez's forward options, but the news that Ross Barkley may be out for over a month is very troubling indeed.

4. But Aiden McGeady's arrival sparks excitement.

There is hope however. Prior to kick off against Norwich, Aiden McGeady was presented as Everton's first signing of the January window, and with Jelavic seemingly on the way out the Irishman is unlikely to be the last new face arriving at Goodison this month.

McGeady has a reputation as an exciting winger, comfortable on either flank, and there's no doubting that he'll have a significant part to play in the second half of Everton's season. But it should also be remembered that he hasn't played since mid-November, and those hoping for him to make an instant impact may be disappointed.

5. Martinez was right to experiment, even if things didn't go to plan.

Everton's shift from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-3 late in the match was met with some consternation from the Goodison faithful. The change was partly forced after Steven Pienaar picked up a knock, but it was also another example of Martinez's willingness to experiment with different ways of playing - in particular with a back three.

As it happens, the changes coincided with Norwich gaining a foothold in the game for the first time, with Tim Howard being forced into a couple of saves as players struggled to adapt to the switch in systems. The shift prompted some frustration from the crowd, but Martinez rightly saw this as an opportunity to try something new. After all, if you can't test a new formation when you're 2-0 up at home, when can you?

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