I don't often take to player reviews as it's not something I believe in. A team makes the game not a player. But every now and again comes a rare exception and if I had the choice of picking the man of the match for our trip across the park this weekend end, John Stones gets my vote.
I'm going to make this clear before I continue, I slated Roberto Martinez in my last article for the lack of defensive strength our side has been showing, but Saturday was a huge improvement. Further to that Phil Jagielka had the best game he has had in a while, he is always rated at a 7 or 8 for me but his performance may have taken that rating a notch higher. I also think Jagielka has had a brilliant impact on Stonesy, the pair dovetail each other very well and are a true centre back pairing. Both seem to be calm and composed most of the time on the ball and Stones in particular enjoys getting forward, using 1-2's or knock-and-go passes.
That all leads me on nicely to our number 26 himself. Stones has played the majority of this season coming from the bench and starting at, as most would say, his unnatural position of right back. I now think he is ready to step up and replace Sylvain Distin in our starting 11. This is absolutely nothing against Distin, who has been and still is an important player to us, but you can't play Stones anywhere else but centre back.
On Saturday, he (Stones) provided us with a calm, composed, mature performance. Something you would only see the likes of from some of the best experienced centre backs around. He allowed Jagielka to play a more comfortable role alongside him.
Stones shows class and potential most other centre backs in the league lack. His tackling from start to finish on Saturday prevented opportunities and prevented goals. What 20 year-old centre back is or has been in the Premier league, or any other league for that matter, that has the composure and maturity to A. Keep a centre forward quiet all afternoon, B. Not pick up a booking in a derby and C. Show brilliant quality on the ball to take us forward to attack?
It would have been easy for John to kick out at Mario Balotelli or get frustrated with how the game was going. He didn't, he held his head together and almost carried the team forward. He was seen on occasions motivating the team with only 5-10 minutes left to keep pushing forward, the lad has an old head on a young body. The position he took up all game was one that covered Balotelli when Everton were off the ball but allowed him to get forward in the gaps, should he need to, when we were on the ball. I think he is up there with the best signings Moyes made for us before his departure. The kid hasn't even begun!