Ross Barkley was the star of the show for Everton in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Premier League title challengers Manchester City.
The Englishman opened the scoring for his side with a wonderful strike from distance and, while this goal will likely prove the highlight of the 20-year-old’s match, his excellent overall performance should not be forgotten.
Barkley was utterly superb and, in a mature display, he gave his all for the Toffees, significantly boosting his chances of a World Cup appearance in just over a month’s time.
Playing just behind Everton’s centre-forward pairing, he amassed 98 touches in total – more than any other player on the pitch – and he lost the ball on just 13 occasions.
|Touches||Lost Possession||Unsuccessful Touches||Dispossessed|
He was at the heart of all Everton's best moves and he completed an incredible nine of 10 attempted take-ons. Whenever receiving possession he opted to burst forward, driving into the attacking third. He continued to pressure the Manchester City defence, causing problems throughout with his pace and power.
|Total Dribbles||Successful Dribbles||Dribble Completion Rate (%)|
In the fourth minute, he ran onto a pass before pirouetting past a number of City defenders. Another first half drive spread further panic in the opponent’s ranks and he was only prevented from causing further damage when Vincent Kompany slid in to snatch the ball from his toe.
Barkley played two key passes in total and may have had an assist, or two, on a more fruitful day for the Toffees. After half-time, another run almost created a goal for Steven Naismith, but the Scot was denied thanks to a fantastic save by Joe Hart. Of 77 attempted passes, he completed 70 – recording an average accuracy of 91%. 45 of these attempts saw the ball move forward, whilst 20 found a teammate in the final third.
|Key Passes||Total Passes||Successful Passes||Pass Completion Rate (%)|
He showed tremendous strength when in control of the ball and he took full advantage of this trait when attempting to recover possession for the Toffees. He came shoulder-to-shoulder with Yaya Toure on a few occasions and, for the most part, he came out on top.
|Total Tackles||Total Clearances||Total Interceptions|
His defensive contribution proved limited, nonetheless, he won his single attempted tackle, dispossessing Samir Nasri on the halfway line.
It was a mature performance from the youngster, who proved he is not afraid to showcase his ability even at the nerviest of times. He certainly stated his case for World Cup selection with England manager, Roy Hodgson, in attendance and Roberto Martinez certainly believes he will have captured the Three Lions coach’s attention.
"He is a young man and we tend to get carried away too quickly, but if you ask me he is unique," said the Spaniard, while speaking to Sky Sports.
"The balance he has on the ball, his technical ability and mentality, he can offer something very different to the England squad.
"If the England manager thinks that he can offer something now, great, nothing will faze him. If not, he is still young and is going to grow into something unique in English football."
This was a display that proved just how much talent Ross Barkley possesses. It’s clear to see why he has been labelled the best young player to emerge at Everton since Wayne Rooney - it would be a tremendous shock if he is not included in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man World Cup squad on May 12.