In a season that has been largely successful by nearly any standard, five players have stood out above the rest at Goodison Park. Here, we'll take a look at the five most successful players at the (basically) halfway point, and you can have your say as to who is Everton's player of the first half of the season!
McCarthy is the only big addition to the squad that is here on a permanent basis, and Evertonians will be thrilled to have him long-term. The 23 year old Irishman has jumped into the squad beautifully, using his familiarity with Roberto Martinez and sound possession skills to link with Gareth Barry and anchor the Everton midfield. Everton has remained a very sound possession team, powered by what he and Barry continue to provide, match in and match out. McCarthy has also picked up 3 assists.
The man on loan from Manchester City is the other half of the Toffee's successful pairing at the center of the park. Barry has an entirely unfair reputation for being a boring, uninteresting player who brings little excitement to matches, which worried Everton supporters when he was brought in. Such claims have turned out to simply be false though, and Barry has been an absolute rock in the center of midfield. He is sound defensively, certainly playing a part in Everton's solid defensive form this season. Barry is a passing machine, and quite accurate for the amount of passes he attempts during a match, and has 3 assists thus far this season, as well as 2 goals.
Another Irishman has also led the way for Everton this year, right-back Seamus Coleman. Coleman is the club's only ever-present in the league thus far, but that only scratches the surface of what the 25 year old has done this season. He has vastly improved his defensive play this season, and aside from 2 poor penalties conceded, it is hard to pick out too many points where he has gone wrong defensively. This improved defensive play has certainly convinced Roberto Martinez and the supporters that his proper position is on the back line, not in the midfield. In truth though, what has made Coleman a player of the season candidate has been his offensive prowess. The former Sligo Rovers man has been a nightmare to deal with on attacking runs, and partnered well with whoever is playing right midfield to create chances. At a time when Lukaku has looked tired and the midfield has struggled at times to put in goals, Coleman's 6 goals have been huge. Everton has taken 16 points out of 18 from matches that Seamus has scored in.
Though the big Belgian has looked somewhat tired of late (who could blame him, given all the minutes he has played?), he is still absolutely a candidate for play of the season thus far. Very simply, Lukaku has 9 goals and 3 assists through 16 matches on a team that appeared to have very little hope at striker in August. Even when Romelu is not scoring goals, the side totally changes when he is in the lineup. Opposing defenses have to be constantly concerned with Lukaku, because even if he is not at his best, all he needs is one chance and he will make teams pay, as we saw against Southampton. In this way, Lukaku makes everyone around him better as well, and certainly plays a role in the breakout seasons of Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley.
Speaking of Ross Barkley, the 20 year old is our last player of the first half candidate. We had been waiting for a couple of years for Barkley to finally be given a major role in the club, and Roberto Martinez decided that the young man was ready at the start of the season (and what a start Ross gave us!). Barkley has 4 goals and 1 assist on the season, but his contributions go much deeper than that. Much like Lukaku, he is a player capable of giving opposing defenses nightmares on a regular basis. He is fantastic on the ball, skilled with both feet, and not afraid to take shots. His decision making still needs work at times, but the 20 year old has had a remarkable first half none the less.
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