Everton's unheralded hero...and a huge reason for their fine season

Everton are enjoying an outstanding season under Roberto Martinez, and Kevin Mirallas has played a huge role in that.

When Roberto Martinez arrived at Goodison Park he spoke about Champions League football.  And while some may have rolled their eyes and called it preposterous, Everton's performances since then have proved those pessimists to be somewhat foolish.

The Toffees may not make it into Europe's elite...or even into the Europa League...but they have been this season's revelation, a side allowed to play, let free from their shackles and rewarding their manager with some outstanding displays.

They may have fallen foul to a last-gasp goal at Stamford Bridge at the weekend, but they were well worthy of a point and arguably more against Chelsea.  And you can be sure they will keep fighting until the end of the season.  After all, those final few months is when Martinez often got the best out of his former side Wigan Athletic.

While the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Ross Barkley and Leighton Baines garner most of the headlines, another player has excelled this season, playing a vital role in the Toffees' renaissance.

Kevin Mirallas has been great throughout, and without him Everton would not currently be sitting level on points with Manchester United with a game-in-hand.

Mirallas gets into the top five Everton players for goals scored, assists provided, key passes and successful dribbles.  He currently has five league goals for the season, just four behind on-loan striker Lukaku.

Romelu Lukaku 9
Seamus Coleman 5
Kevin Mirallas 5
Leighton Baines 3
Ross Barkley 3

He matches his Belgian teammate when it comes to goal assists, both players currently with five.

PlayerGoal Assist
Romelu Lukaku 5
Kevin Mirallas 5
Gareth Barry 3
James McCarthy 3
Leon Osman 3

While he is head-and-shoulders above the rest at Goodison Park in terms of key passes, where he has played 21 more than his nearest challenger, Steven Pienaar.  

PlayerKey Pass
Kevin Mirallas 51
Steven Pienaar 30
Seamus Coleman 29
James McCarthy 29
Leighton Baines 25

But as well as scoring and creating, he is also something of a nuisance for opponents, winning 40 dribbling contests and constantly being a thorn in the side of his rivals.

PlayerWon Contest
Ross Barkley 58
Seamus Coleman 46
Kevin Mirallas 40
Leighton Baines 27
Romelu Lukaku 22

In short, Mirallas has played a vital role in Martinez's first season at Everton.  At 26, the Belgian international should be reaching his peak, and if the Toffees can strengthen effectively again this summer, he could have a permanent front-man to benefit from that multitude of key passes and effective dribbles.

So next time the usual suspects are name-checked in a review of Everton's season, be sure to mention Mirallas.  He has played as big a role as any.


image: © Ben Sutherland

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