Everton’s youngsters have massive impact
As Everton’s usual starters have begun to show their age, Ronald Koeman has increasingly looked to the team’s youth set up to find fresh legs to contribute to the first team. Mason Holgate and Tom Davies were again given the nod to start against Manchester City and both played a huge role in what would end up as a 4-0 decimation of Pep Guardiola’s City.
Davies put in yet another masterful shift in central midfield for Everton. Calm in possession, solid in defense and always looking to play the ball into dangerous areas, Davies was a huge part of Everton’s success. He played a perfect ball into Kevin Mirallas who found Romelu Lukaku to open up the scoring in the first half. This is the type of service that has been lacking from Everton early in the season and it is promising to see it coming from one of the younger players on the squad. Davies also opened his scoring account with Everton thanks to a delightful solo run down the right flank to play the ball to Ross Barkley who found Davies open on the right side of the penalty area.
Finally, Ademola Lookman had an impressive debut for the Toffees, despite only playing five minutes. Subbed on for Barkley in the 90th minute, Lookman showed fantastic awareness to find a poor John Stones clearance in the middle of the box to slot it home for the fourth goal of the match.
The youth on this team was massively impressive in this match with half of the scoring coming from players under the age of 25.
Ross Barkley puts on a masterclass in midfield
Ross Barkley has endured a difficult and inconsistent first season under Ronald Koeman. The midfielder has struggled to stay in Koeman’s good graces and has put in a number of dodgy performances that have left many wondering about his long term future at the club. However against Manchester City, there were signs of the Ross Barkley that thrilled the Premier League in his debut season and had fans singing about their ‘diamond’.
He may not have scored a goal of his own, but Barkley was a driving force behind Everton’s success in this match. His dribbling and movement with the ball was sublime and time after time he found his teammates with skillful passes into dangerous areas. There has been much talk from many, me included, that Barkley may not have what it takes to be a true number 10 for this team. But if performances like this become the norm, those concerns may be a thing of the past.
Everton’s defence getting back on track
There are still concerns about Everton’s defence this season. They were certainly lucky on more than a few occasions against City, but it’s hard to argue with the end result, a clean sheet. Speaking of clean sheets, the Toffees have now had three of them in their last four matches, with Joel Robles in goal for all of those.
Their three at the back formation may not be pretty, but more often than not this season it has produced a positive defensive result. Not only does it get their three best central defenders on the pitch, but it also gives Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman more freedom to run the flanks. And as we have seen in season’s past, this team is more successful when their full backs get forward.
This game was not without it’s heart stopping defensive moments and the number of free kicks given up around the box are concerning. On another day City could have punished Everton for the fouls they committed, but once in a while it pays to be lucky.