A comfortable win for the Blues over the other South Wales team. What are our five thoughts?
Is Barkley back?
It’s been a few months since we’ve seen the true Ross Barkley in an Everton shirt. Since his foot injury in early January he’s been a shadow of his former self, with only flickers of his previous form in cameo appearances. On Saturday it looked more like the Barkley that we need right now, his direct running won the penalty and cause problems for the Swansea backline all game. And a goal will do his confidence the world of good.
How old is John Stones?
He looks like he’s been playing in the first team for his whole life, in fact he almost has. It’s easy to forget that this is a 19 year old in his first full season at a Premier League club, with seven starts to his name and only five in his favoured centre back position his development is startling. With the best pass success rate in the team (90%) he’s fitting into Roberto Martinez’s first eleven with ease. Although it’s painful to say it he most resemble that eighties centre back from the Dark Side, Alan Hansen, his cool, calm, collected play, good use of the ball, and an ability to play it long, look at the penalty on Saturday, give the team another option. The fact that he has 78 touches against the Swans, 12 more than any other player, shows that his teammates trust him, just seven games into his top flight career. Now that’s something.
Just how much more potent could we be with consistently performing wide players. Currently our nominal widemen are a combination of the out and out wingers that Manchester United play with (a hangover of the David Moyes days?) and the interchangeable front three that Jose Mourinho deploys at Chelsea, you feel that Martinez would rather see more of the latter. The biggest frustration is Kevin Mirallas, who on his day is up there with the best, he has pace, with or without the ball, decent awareness, and finishing skills, but he’s still fails to turn up far too often. Steven Pienaar is Steven Pienaar, he will always be what he is, and the surprise is that Martinez hasn’t chosen to use him as a number 10 more often. The wildcard of our wing wizards are Aiden McGeady, looking dangerous and much fitter on Saturday, and Gerard Deulofeu, who would be in the Barcelona first team is he could pick a pass. Or if he looked like he was even looking for a pass. Either way this is an area of improvement for the summer.
Eight wins in a row, the best since 1986. Not bad huh? Forget all the backhanded comments about narrow victories and scraping wins, a win is a win. The team will always be open as long as the Spaniard is in charge, just look across the park (I know it’s hard but bear with me) at what Brendan Rogers is doing and you’ll see a glimpse into our future with some money to spend and some canny buys, slick passing, interchanging attackers, and acres of space at the back. You’ll read columns of text about their defence but in the end football is about outscoring the opposition. What would you rather see, a 1-0 war of attrition, or a 3-2 blinder with some hairy moments?
Europe or no?
Everyone wants the Champions League don’t they? Too far for Everton though this season you’d think. So would you settle for the Europa League? Hell yes. Forget the drain on the squad, we’ve seen before how much fun European games are, and Martinez has already said he’d use a lot of youth in any Europa League games we might play. A chance to gain experience of games, and for more senior players, European games, is a must for anyone. Tottenham have shown it can be done, and even Fulham have managed to pull it off. Forget the naysayers, you can be in Europe and challenge in the league.