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Dundee 0-2 Everton Analysis: Youngsters fit in to the system, and Barkley back to his best?

Everton reverted to their usual system against the SPL side, but the introduction of new players showed hope for the future...

Jeff Holmes/Getty Images

Everton carried on their pre-season momentum with a 2-0 win over Dundee on Tuesday, thanks to goals from Conor McAleny and Ross Barkley.

Roberto Martinez appeared to use the game to test out some of the younger players in his squad, and had some very promising results. There was also a return to form for some of the more established names.

Here is what we learned from the match...

The Youngsters Fit The System

Matthew Pennington, Brendan Galloway, Tyias Browning, Conor McAleny, and Kieran Dowell all got meaningful runs out against the Scottish outfit, while Ryan Ledson and Antonee Robinson also came on in the dying minutes.

It is always good to see youth being blooded like this in the warm-up games, with it being one of the best times to see what they can do. This group did not disappoint, and perhaps most importantly looked to fit Martinez's system perfectly. This could be the first returns we see on the Catalan implementing his philosophy throughout the youth teams, as the youngsters all looked at home yesterday.

Pennington looked very willing to get forward from full-back, in the same vein as Baines and Coleman. Meanwhile Galloway and Browning both seemed comfortably being asked to pass the ball, as well as solid when tested at the back. With the latter two currently our third and fourth choice centre-backs this could be especially important.

McAleny was able to play on both the wing and centrally, and echoed Steven Naismith in his work rate. Most impressive was Dowell though, who seemed right at home despite being just 17-years-old. His dribbling and passing particularly eye-catching.

All this points to Martinez's plan to use youth to supplement the squad more than his predecessor David Moyes coming together this season. While, several of this group could be loaned out with Luke Garbutt, the likes of Galloway, Browning, and McAleny could be used in the first team if new signings don't appear soon.

Barkley Back To His Best?

After his first break from football since Moyes left the club, the 21-year-old's form has looked promising over the last couple of weeks. His wonder-goal against Arsenal has now been followed up by an accomplished performance, which was full of the direct running (which won a penalty) and linking up with teammates that is expected.

This came with the England international playing in his natural position just behind the main striker. Last season he was seen out wide and in a deeper role next to James McCarthy, not looking completely at home in either. By the time he was back in attacking midfield it was too late, and his confidence was shot.

However, this seems behind him now, and Martinez also appears to have learned from his mistake. In particular the use of McAleny, Naismith, and Dowell around him seemed to work well. While Romelu Lukaku can tend to be a stationary target up top, the trio showed a lot more movement on Tuesday, in turn allowing Barkley to have more space. McAleny in particular was happy to move to either wing for the midfielder to run through. While Tom Cleverley was able to move forward to support the attacks.

All this meant that the predictability and crowding that was a symptom of offensive moves in the last campaign could be in the past. That is if Lukaku can match his younger teammate's movement when on the pitch.


To conclude, while an experimental 4-3-3 was on display against Hearts on Sunday, things were back to usual here. However, with many new players being blooded it was a good decision to give them familiar surroundings in which to make their mark.

The youngsters did make their mark as a result, and a few could have Martinez thinking about using them when the season starts. McAleny, Browning, and Galloway are the most likely to make this jump.

In other areas of the pitch, Cleverley and McCarthy looked good together, and Baines seems to have fully recovered from his ankle problem. Maybe we could even start getting hopeful for the competitive games?