Everton: Bolasie critical; Koeman hails Barkley; opportunity for Cleverley; Stekelenburg update
The majority of reaction emerging from Goodison Park is centred around the Toffees’ most recent triumph, a 2-0 home win over West Ham to finally get Ronald Koeman’s side back to winning ways. Despite the lack of transfer talk, there is a great deal to digest from the analyses, which centre-around the potent Yannick Bolasie-Romelu Lukaku partnership, the impressive performance and goal from Ross Barkley, Joel Robles’ impressive performance in goal and Tom Cleverley’s intelligent cameo.
Greg O’Keeffe of the Liverpool Echo certainly made much of the importance of what is currently the top-flight’s most potent partnership, declaring the table but not be a “pleasant sight” for Everton fans were it not for the exploits of the duo, and even going so far as to label the Toffees’ attack as “one dimensional”.
Indeed, Bolasie has assisted four league goals for Lukaku this season, the most of any one player to another in the Premier League this campaign, and it was a landmark for the Belgian this weekend as he registered his 50th Premier League goal for the club. But the Merseysiders according to O’Keeffe lack attacking depth, and it is the quality that the attacking tandem provides which is keeping the Toffees firmly in the European hunt for now.
After breaking the deadlock, which was no more than deserved given his work rate on the day, the brilliant Lukaku turned provider for Ross Barkley and was a stunning Adrián save away from bagging a brace after a flowing team move in the closing stages. The Belgian has been involved in ten of the 15 goals Everton have scored so far this season, and the fact he is vital to the cause is undeniable, but with Bolasie at his side, O’Keeffe seems to believe that Lukaku has found an “attacking paradise” at the club, and long may it continue from an Everton perspective.
Elsewhere, much is also being made regarding the performance of Ross Barkley. He put in an impressive performance, was full of running, showed an intelligent streak in his decision making that has been absent in recent weeks and he finally looked comfortable with the demands of the high tempo pressing game that Ronald Koeman preaches. The goal put the gloss on his afternoon.
In fact, it was such an emphatic response to Koeman’s warning that he must “give more” that the Dutchman hailed it as one of Barkley’s best displays all season.
Koeman told the Liverpool Echo: “It was one of his best performances of this season. I think he was working hard, he was tackling, offensively he was important in the game.
“The West Ham goalkeeper Adrián made an incredible save from him in the first half and then he scored the second goal.He was really the player between the defence and the front to create and that is what you like to see”.
“That’s what you need to do and then, normally, these kind of players, with the individual qualities that they have, they make the difference.”
The key for Ross Barkley now of course is that he must maintain this form consistently if he is to recapture the spark of previous seasons and hope to force his way decisively into the England fold. Though he wasn’t the only midfielder who showed glimpses of his potential, after Everton’s Tom Cleverley featured in an inspiring cameo.
The former Manchester United youngster is known for his versatility, and has played in most positions across the midfield during his Everton career. On Sunday however, he surprised much of the Goodison Park faithful when introduced from the bench by Koeman and asked to play in the Number Ten role behind Romelu Lukaku, with Barkley being pushed out to the left flank, and he was subtle in the hole but nonetheless impressive.
He was tenacious in closing the Hammers down and used the pockets of space he found himself in intelligently. Although it is unlikely that the midfielder capped by England will be featuring in the role regularly, Greg O’Keeffe made his thoughts clear in the Echo that he may well have done enough to warrant further chances in the team at least until the January transfer window.
Following Everton’s victory, boss Ronald Koeman also provided an update on first choice goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg, who was forced to sit out the win over West Ham after injuring his foot. Koeman told the Echo that the Dutch international would be fit for Everton’s showdown with Chelsea next weekend.
“On Saturday, Maarten had a swollen foot,” said Koeman. “He was close to playing. He had a test on Sunday morning but he did not have that confidence that you need to start and that was the reason he didn’t start today. But he will be fit for next week.”
Another plus for Everton on Sunday was that despite Stekelenburg’s injury, his understudy Joel Robles excelled against the Hammers in his absence, and Koeman had some words of praise for his second choice goalkeeper after he stepped up to the plate in fine style.
“We have total confidence in Joel”, Koeman said. “He had a difficult time in the beginning after the decision that we made (to keep Stekelenburg as first choice) but in the last few months he’s been doing well, he’s been waiting for his chance and he’s showed today that he can be the number one if we need him, no problem.”
Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by Hubert Ziemlewski.
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