Everton moved into the Premier League's top half after a 3-1 win at home to Queens Park Rangers on Monday evening.
A slow opening half-hour eventually sparked into action thanks to Ross Barkley's brilliant effort from outside the area, before Kevin Mirallas's deflected free kick put the Blues two to the good moments before the half-time whistle.
Steven Naismith soon added a third to secure the points in the Toffees' favour, although the home side couldn't prevent Bobby Zamora from scoring a late consolation goal for the visitors.
Playing in a deeper role than usual, Ross Barkley was exceptional. Roberto Martinez had clearly instructed the 19-year-old to focus less on the attacking side of his game, and he did just that.
Although he was seen pushing forward - striking panic in the heart of the QPR defence whenever he did so - for the most-part of the match, he sat back and dominated proceedings in the centre of the park.
|Match||Goals||Conversion Rate (%)||Chances Created||Passes||Pass Accuracy (%)||Dribbles||Tackles||Interceptions|
|Ross Barkley||Everton vs QPR||1||33||2||59||86||4||4||1|
Barkley's superb run and strike to open the scoring was merely the icing on the cake of a fantastic performance. He and Besic operated like clockwork to fulfill their defensive duties, while he his attacking movements saw him stand-out, as he looked to assist his side in the transitions from the middle to the final third. He completed four take-ons, while fashioning two goal scoring opportunities for his team-mates.
His defensive exploits saw him break down numerous QPR attacks. In total, he won an impressive four tackles, as well as making one interception. He is both technically and physically tailored to playing a holding-midfield position, as the statistics from Monday evening's performance suggest.
Suggestions that this role would nullify his attacking ability are, of course, false. Here he was still able to attempt three shots at goal, one of which got the best of Rangers 'keeper Rob Green.
Barkley made very few mistakes in possession, finding himself dispossessed on just one occasion. Meanwhile, he completed 86% of his 59 attempted passes - the third highest success rate of any Everton player. 15 of these passes saw the ball move forward, while 17 came within the final third. Clearly, he was still able to have a significant impact in the attacking zone.
This is a position in which Barkley could also thrive for England. Arsenal's Jack Wilshere currently operates as England's holding midfielder, and while he has impressed in the Three Lions' recent matches, his ability to perform at the same level against the World's best sides remains open to debate.
With competition for places tight in the final third, Roy Hodgson could introduce Barkley as the main source of protection for his side's back-four.