Three Things: Everton vs. Southampton

Posted by Richard Jolly

Clive Brunskill/Getty ImagesRomelu Lukaku got Everton back on track with a match-winning goal versus Southampton.

LIVERPOOL, England -- A trio of thoughts from Everton's 2-1 win versus Southampton.

Coleman the goal man

The Goodison Park regulars have long felt they possessed the best full-back in his position in the Premier League. If outsiders were slower in acknowledging Leighton Baines' merits, recognition eventually followed as he was named in the PFA team of the year for each of the past two seasons. Now history may be repeating itself at Everton as another attacking full-back blazes a trail along his flank on a weekly basis. Seamus Coleman has never been more prolific -- a scorching shot that flashed past Kelvin Davis brought him a third goal in four games -- or more proficient. He has developed into a high-class performer who is at his physical peak. It is notable that, at a time when others are being rested, the indefatigable Coleman continues to surge from box to box. That power helps explain why only Romelu Lukaku has more goals for Everton this season.

- Report: Everton 2-1 Southampton

And as the top-scoring defender in the division, Coleman is staking his claim for the status as the outstanding right-back. His principal rival is probably Pablo Zabaleta, superb last season and a similarly tireless performer. If the Argentine is more dogged defensively, the Irishman is the more devastating in the final third. His improvement reflects well on Roberto Martinez, who has given him still more licence to go forward, but amid the rewriting of Everton history, it should not be forgotten that David Moyes unearthed Coleman in the League of Ireland and signed him for 60,000 pounds. It may well be his greatest bargain.

Everton have more depth than Southampton

There were common denominators in Everton and Southampton's fine starts. Both had managers who espoused passing and pressing and who, without the distraction of European football, were able to pick similar sides every week. When the fixture list is at its most crowded, the question of whether they possess strength in depth or merely a fine first XI becomes particularly pertinent. The evidence is that Everton have more options than Southampton. They started without six of their more prominent players -- Gareth Barry and Tim Howard were suspended, Gerard Deulofeu and Phil Jagielka injured, Steven Pienaar and Kevin Mirallas on the bench -- although they had to summon the South African and the Belgian after the interval.

While not all of the deputies prospered -- goalkeeper Joel Robles perhaps should have saved Gaston Ramirez's swerving shot -- others proved useful stand-ins. The concern, however, may be that Martinez only has alternatives in certain positions. With Arouna Kone injured and Nikica Jelavic out of form and out of favour, Lukaku has to play every game. Everton remain reliant on the Belgian and his winner was especially timely. It ended his five-game goal drought and meant that, after the Boxing Day defeat to Sunderland, the Merseysiders are back on track. Southampton, in contrast, only have one win in eight and since Mauricio Pochettino's preferred team began to be disrupted -- and they were without the midfield axis of Morgan Schneiderlin and Victor Wanyama at Goodison Park -- victories have been elusive. He is only really operating with a pool of around 15 players he trusts even if Ramirez, who does not seem to belong to that select group, illustrated his ability in his cameo.

England should be optimistic

When it comes to the question of the locals, English football tends to be engulfed in doom and gloom. Unflattering statistics are unearthed about the lack of natives in an increasingly global league. The presumption is that foreign managers prefer imported talent. Yet that is not always the case. Martinez and Pochettino are Spanish speakers who have championed the homegrown youngsters they inherited. They are reasons Everton and Southampton have surpassed expectations this season and they illustrated their ability.

Ross Barkley has gone from fringe player to focal point of the Everton team, collecting comparisons with Steven Gerrard, Wayne Rooney, Paul Gascoigne and Michael Ballack along the way. Yet while there were hints of his talent, he was outshone by his counterpart in the Southampton side. If Barkley and Adam Lallana are contesting one place in England's World Cup squad, the Saints skipper may have shaded their duel. He has reached the level where he seems to influence every game, whether with deft touches, elusive movement or an ever-present eye for goal.

The latest triumphs of the prolific Southampton academy are the three teenagers who have saved a big-spending club millions. James Ward-Prowse brings Beckham-esque delivery at set pieces, Luke Shaw could be Baines' long-term replacement as England's left-back and Calum Chambers is, quietly, one of the success stories of Southampton's season. The right-back is understudying the rested Nathaniel Clyne, yet another of the English contingent, and is another with rich potential.


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