Defense Still A Work In Progress
Let's face it, Everton's defense has left a lost to be desired to this point and today's game did nothing to dispel those fears. Even when they grabbed a clean sheet against Southampton the Toffees were still giving up good chances to the opponent. What made today's performance especially worrying was the fact that three of the four defenders are members of the first team. Sure, the lower league teams tend to take the League Cup and FA Cup a little more seriously than the Premier League sides, but that is still no excuse for giving up three goals against a very much over-matched side. Up to this point the full backs have received the brunt of the criticism, and rightly so, but at what point do we start looking to John Stones and Phil Jagielka to stem the influx of goals?
He's Magic, You Know
The Spanish wonder boy, Gerard Deulofeu put in quite a shift today and is probably the main reason that Everton haven't exited the tournament in the second round. While inconsistency has often plagued his young career he looked nothing short of brilliant today, notching three assists and saving the day. Deulofeu's performance really makes you wonder why he hasn't gotten more minutes in league matches, especially when Tom Cleverley and Arouna Kone have been the regular wingers so far. Everton have lacked width and creativity in most of their games and they have a player capable of satisfying both needs sitting on the bench.
John Stones' Last Hurrah?
Let's hope not, because if this turns out to be John Stones' last game in an Everton kit then things will not have ended on a high note. Despite having handed in a transfer request and being the center of a frenzy of media activity, Roberto Martinez opted to start the defender and he made some head scratching decisions. Most notably was Stones' bizarre decision to hurdle Sam Winnall's strike allowing Barnsley to take an early lead. Some think that this decision shows that Stones has basically mentally checked out and already has his bags packed for London. Call me an apologist, but odds are the 21-year-old was more than distracted by this ongoing media circus and his concentration was likely not at it's best. Fans in the away end at Barnsley who met him after the game reported that the lad was in tears over this furore. Regardless of the reason, the Stones Saga will likely find a conclusion very soon and we can only hope that he ends up staying in blue, but of the Everton variety.