Stylish Everton too good for Stoke

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Jan Kruger/Getty ImagesSeamus Coleman and Everton are full of confidence heading into Wednesday's Old Trafford showdown after their 4-0 thrashing of Stoke.

After a constant stream of sleep-inducing contests, with recent encounters between Everton and Stoke short on goals and meaningful entertainment, there is a very real danger that this latest offering will feature highly on the Match of the Day running order.

- Match report: Everton 4-0 Stoke

The two teams are undergoing something of a transformation amid wholesale changes on their respective managerial and playing fronts, though Everton are adapting quicker than Stoke on this evidence. In the end, the increased openness of this match suited only the home side.

Everton dispatched four beyond the overworked Asmir Begovic and few could have quibbled if the figure had been double. The visitors battled gamely in the early stages, displaying their newfound passing approach, but once the first hit the net, there was a surprising lack of fight from a side known for their toughness.

This was in marked contrast to a rampant Everton side equalling their best Premier League home run. The Toffees are now unbeaten in 16 (11-5-0) at Goodison Park, which is something they last achieved from April 1999-March 2000.

Though there were signs of rust in the early stages, as the team adjusted to three personnel changes from last week, the second half showed how impressive the style is of Roberto Martinez when it clicks into gear.

Crisp passing and sharp movement underpinned the football displayed after the interval. The self-belief within this current crop is staggering, from the players on the pitch to the man in the dugout. One thing is certain; there will be no knife-gunfight remarks before the trips to Manchester United and Arsenal.

Here, led by the ever-industrious midfield duo of James McCarthy and Gareth Barry, with Barry exceptional throughout, Everton had the necessary platform from which to build on, and the creative players relished the stage.

Barry rarely gets the headlines, but this was a seamless exhibition in the art of the holding role. The statistics merely underline his impact on this one-sided fixture; Barry tops the Everton figures on chances created (four), passes (71), and passing accuracy (92%) and tackles (five).

Ahead of Barry, Steven Pienaar was one of those who thrived, offering a timely reminder of his importance to this Everton side. Able to find space in the tightest of situations, the midfielder lit up proceedings with his trademark flicks and turns. The only omission from his performance was the presence of a well-earned goal or assist.

On the opposite flank to Pienaar, with Kevin Mirallas rested for the upcoming trip to Old Trafford, Gerard Deulofeu capitalised on a first league start. Somewhere on the M6, Stoke left back Erik Pieters is having nightmares about the Barcelona loanee.

Deulofeu claimed his first goal in royal blue, along with an assist for Bryan Oviedo, and the young winger delighted the home crowd with a display full of invention and trickery. There is also evidence of the final ball improving; the capabilities of this talented youngster are endless once they are fine-tuned.

Elsewhere, Oviedo vindicated the faith shown by Martinez. There were a number of possible options open to the manager, yet he was rewarded for selecting the logical one. The Costa Rican eased his way into the match, keeping the passing simple, and then the confidence built up thereafter.

Grabbing an exquisite third with his wrong foot, the fourth demonstrated his worth in light of Baines' absence. The awareness and composure accompanying the cross to Romelu Lukaku highlighted the quality of Oviedo in the final third.

Seamus Coleman also weighed in with a goal from full back on the right, although the whole team contributed in some part to this resounding victory. Aside from the individuals and the score line, though, the most pleasing aspect is the approach of Martinez.

There was an astute use of the squad, both in terms of the starting eleven and the substitutions, with one eye cast toward the tougher tests of next week. Juggling his players expertly, Martinez will take a side full of confidence and competition to Old Trafford on Wednesday.


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