The starting Everton back line as it stands right now has been playing together for over a month, and yet, it's been an overlooked part of the club in that time.
That's partly due to the much-given and much-deserved attention on the goals of Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley, or the playmaking of Gerard Deulofeu. And when the spotlight has been shined in the back, it's usually been focused on who isn't there, as captain Phil Jagielka is currently out with a long-term injury, and Leighton Baines has only recently worked his way back onto the pitch in an attempt to regain a spot at left back.
But having just seen out a 1-1 draw against a dangerous Crystal Palace team that was coming off a five-goal game, it's time to take a closer look at how the foursome of Seamus Coleman, John Stones, Ramiro Funes Mori and Brendan Galloway have fared through five games together in the Starting XI.
We start on the left side with the Toffee defender who's had the most eventful season to this point. Since being thrust into the starting left back position after Baines' preseason injury, the 19-year-old Galloway has taken his chance and run with it all the way to what will surely be a long-term contract offer from the club.
Despite two minor ankle injuries this season, Galloway has missed just one match for Everton, which cannot be overlooked as the Toffees have been injury-plagued in the back this season. Having made 26 tackles to this point combined with the ability to charge up the left flank and create chances, Galloway has universally received the best compliment a for a teenager in the Premier League: He hasn't looked his age.
Another English defender well beyond his years on the pitch, Stones was praised early on this season for not having a dip in play whilst involved in a massive transfer saga as Chelsea made three attempts to scoop Stones out of Merseyside. For his efforts thus far, Stones has played himself into a first-choice CB spot for England heading into Euro 2016.
Standing 6'2" with the full skill set of a modern top-flight CB, it's been easy to see why Chelsea was so eager to buy Stones, and why Everton was so intent on not letting the London-based club do so. With an ability to make key tackles in and just outside the box and then start a counterattack, it's been exciting to watch Stones's development from a top youth player to a top defender in the Premier League. However, as the cold of January nears, the transfer rumors will once again heat up.
A different level! JOHN STONES #EFC https://t.co/j4cfh2lTrj— EFCTV (@ToffeeTV1) December 7, 2015
Ramiro Funes Mori
A deadline day signing this summer, Funes Mori was named Everton Player of the Month for October after earning a couple starts in place of Stones. Shortly thereafter, Jagielka's knee injury gave Funes Mori a firm first-choice spot alongside Stones. Despite worries that the Argentine might not adapt to the physicality of the Premier League, that hasn't really been the case.
If there has been a knock of Funes Mori to this point, it's his positioning. Take Monday's Crystal Palace match for example. In a span of five minutes near the final whistle, Funes Mori was late covering for Baines on the left flank and almost conceded a penalty on Jordan Mutch because of it. Moments later, he picked up a yellow card near the half-line. The positioning should improve as his communication does as well, but it's certainly worth mentioning as a knock against him following a game in which Everton conceded another set piece headed goal.
A steady performer on the right side, Coleman has probably been the most disciplined Everton defender this season in terms of both positioning and challenges. As he continues to be a solid performer for the Toffees, it's worth mentioning Coleman has had a great year away from Goodison Park as well, having recently become a father and also helping Ireland to qualification in Euro 2016.
In five full games together, this Everton back line hasn't been perfect, but aside from the 3-3 draw versus Bournemouth, the group has conceded just twice in the other four games, both in 1-1 draws against West Ham and Palace.
In this recent run of play we've seen Roberto Martinez's ability to both find talent abroad, and more importantly, to develop the homegrown talent into top players. As the anchor of a Toffees team that often gets in frenetic and open games, the back line has held strong as a unit that was considered makeshift just one month ago. With better discipline and success on 50/50 balls, Everton's back unit is close to turning these draws into victories.