Everton and Bournemouth provided Premier League fans with a spectacular nine-goal thriller this weekend as the Toffees ran riot in a 6-3 victory. Romelu Lukaku kicked off the madness with an opening goal in the first minute, which was swiftly followed by a further two goals from James McCarthy and the Belgian striker again before the half-hour mark.
The home fans were jubilant but were brought swiftly back down to earth by a Joshua King double, leading to a tense period for Ronald Koeman’s side. A flurry of four goals in the last ten minutes lead to a spectacular end to the match, as Lukaku struck twice more and Ross Barkley grabbed a late sixth just after Harry Arter’s consolation goal.
Although Lukaku may have stolen the headlines with a superb performance, England’s forgotten man Ross Barkley gave a near-perfect display in the less familiar right wing position. The 23-year-old has been in good form prior to the match but hasn’t produced a performance akin to this since last season. Barkley was not only prominent in attacking positions but also dug deep to do his fair share of defensive work.
Barkley made five tackles, four clearances, and two interceptions – statistics more stereotypical of a defensive midfielder – in a game that also saw him add an assist and a goal to his record for this season. Such a versatile performance will be a relief to Barkley, who has watched himself tumble below the likes of Andros Townsend and Jesse Lingard in the England pecking order.
Focusing more on the attacking side, the 23-year-old’s willingness to drive towards Bournemouth’s fragile looking defence was clearly causing major problems and was the catalyst of their implosion. He completed three out of four take-ons whilst also troubling the away side in and around the penalty area – making 4/7 passes within the opposition box.
Barkley’s goal was the least he deserved for his performance and perfectly summed up his game. He blitzed past the figures of Tyrone Mings and Artur Boruc as if they didn’t exist, and such was his confidence, began celebrating before he prodded the ball into an empty net. This clearly is a man who has tremendous faith in his ability.
Whilst Barkley will definitely need to improve on his crossing ability if he is to flourish on the wing (he completed 0/3 crosses), his attitude over the last month will surely see him in contention for a starting place in the England side to face Germany in March.
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