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Everton Vs. Queens Park Rangers: 5 Thoughts

Stones and Alcaraz impress again, and what to do with Jelavic?

Clive Brunskill

1. Stones and Alcaraz impress again

Those Evertonians who fretted following the recent injuries to Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin needn't have worried. The two centre backs, so solid at the heart of Everton's defence this season, have barely been missed thanks to the superb performances of deputies Antolin Alcaraz and John Stones.

The pair, an unlikely mixture of youth and experience, were excellent once again against an admittedly poor Queens Park Rangers side, but it is the manner of their play that has impressed more than anything else. Calm on the ball, strong in the tackle, and demonstrating brilliant anticipation and distribution, Alcaraz is proving to be another shrewd Roberto Martinez acquisition, while the signing of Stones could yet turn out to be David Moyes' last great contribution to the club.

2. The Jelavic Conundrum

Just when it seemed that his Everton career was coming to an end, Nikica Jelavic confounded expectations against QPR, turning in a performance reminiscent of his first few months at the club. The Croatian's two goals, the first a fine strike from outside the box and the second a predatory poacher's finish, were dispatched with a ruthlessness unfitting of a man with just one goal in 30 appearances, and the question now is whether or not Roberto Martinez will reconsider his willingness to sell the striker.

When Jelavic is on form, his finishing remains lethal (the less said about his penalty miss the better), and centre forward is the area in which the Blues can least afford to lose cover, but one suspects that if a suitable replacement can be found, and the right offer comes in - potentially from QPR themselves - he may still move on.

3. Full backs flourish

Seamus Coleman capped another frighteningly good performance with his sixth goal of the season, a typically well-struck finish following a surging run from Ross Barkley. The Irishman's overall improvement in 2013 was phenomenal, and going into the New Year his progress shows no signs of slowing.

Meanwhile on the left flank, it doesn't seem to matter whether it is Bryan Oviedo or Leighton Baines providing width and support for the Everton attack. Oviedo got the nod against Rangers and was arguably the game's stand out performer, assisting both Barkley and Jelavic before winning a penalty in the second half. Maybe he should have taken it too...

4. QPR were dreadful

It is worth mentioning that as fantastic as Everton were, QPR were downright terrible. Harry Redknapp's side managed just three attempts on goal at Goodison Park to Everton's 27, and not a single one found the target. In addition, Joey Barton and Karl Henry were completely outclassed in midfield, with the latter laying on Jelavic for his first goal and the former given a torrid time by the outstanding Barkley.

A comprehensive victory is always welcome, and will do no harm to the team's morale, but it is unlikely that Everton will face such meek opposition in the cup going forward.

5. Will Martinez continue to rotate?

One of the many remarkable things about Wigan's FA Cup victory last season was Roberto Martinez's policy of utilising his entire squad during the cup run. Callum McManaman and Joel Robles (now at Everton) were both given their chance to shine in the cup by Martinez, and the manager kept faith with them throughout, with both players starting the final against Manchester City.

This season, Martinez has again rotated and experimented in Everton's cup outings, and although Saturday's victory was comfortable, the Toffees' performance in the League Cup offers a troubling example of what can go wrong when too many first teamers are left out. Back in August it took an extra time goal from substitute Marouane Fellaini (remember him) to see Everton past a resolute Stevenage; Martinez should be wary of the League One side's upset potential.