Gareth Barry was labelled by manager Roberto Martinez as not only the best holding midfield option for England, but the best holding midfielder in the Premier League.
''He [Gareth Barry] is the best defensive midfielder in the league, never mind in English football,'' Roberto Martinez was quoted as saying by talkSPORT.
''Teams have invested massive amount of money into bringing in the best foreign players to play in that position - Fernando and Fernandinho at Man City - but you go through all the players in that position and Gareth has been the most consistent.
''He has been overlooked for England - I don't know the reason behind it but it allows him, at 33, to concentrate on being able to play every game for us.
''On one side, I feel he deserves the reward and I don't understand why he is not getting it but on the other hand, it will extend his career at club level and that is important.''
There can be no doubt that Gareth Barry has aged like a fine wine; at 33 he is possibly playing the best football of his career and helping Everton challenge at the right end of the table. However, to suggest he is the best deep-lying central midfielder in the Premier League is some statement considering the competition for that tag.
|Team||Goals||Assists||Key Passes||Accurate Pass||Fwd Pass||Duels Won||Won Tackle||Touches||Mins Played|
|Daley Blind||Man Utd||1||0||7||477||118||43||18||645||720|
|Tom Huddlestone||Hull City||0||1||8||456||172||48||15||729||932|
Looking at the statistics, it does show that Gareth Barry can merit a place among the best but still shows the Everton man to be behind the likes of Gerrard, Matic and Blind in some key areas.
Barry, to his credit, comes out on top with the most accurate passes and the most forward passes. He also has made the most touches per minute in the group, bar Brazilian international Fernandinho.
Liverpool skipper Steven Gerrard, as expected, offers the most consistent attacking threat with no less than 25 key passes, but Southampton midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin has scored the most goals, as well as making the most accurate tackles.
Nemanja Matic has created two goals, the highest of the seven players analysed, but remains joint with Tom Huddlestone and Fernandinho on chances created. However, the Chelsea man can't be touched for battles won.
The results of the statistics does prove that Martinez's comments were not totally against all evidence, but this doesn't prove Barry is the best defensive midfielder either.
Gareth Barry's position in the eight key areas analysed:
Goals: Joint last place with Fernandinho and Huddlestone.
Assists: Joint second place with Steven Gerrard, Huddlestone and Fernandinho.
Key Passes: Last place.
Accurate passes: First place.
Forward passes: First place.
Battles won: Third place overall; sixth place on battle won per minute.
Tackles won: Third place overall; sixth place on tackle won per minute.
Touches: Third place overall; fourth place on touches per minute.
He has won in two key areas and has stuck within the pack in the others, only being cut away dead last in one key area - key passes.
Nemanja Matic has won the plaudits for his performances in the deep-lying position and based on the league table, you would have to give him the accolade at the minute.