How crucial has summer signing Yannick Bolasie been to Romelu Lukaku’s form this season, and can Andre Ayew’s return transform wasteful West Ham?
Bolasie behind Rom resurgence?
When discussing last summer’s best buys, £30million Yannick Bolasie will seldom get a mention. In fact, he’s far more likely to be held as an example of how inflated prices have become.
However, while such a hefty price tag has weighed players down in the past, Bolasie has gone a little unnoticed this season. And that’s not really fair on the former Crystal Palace star. After all, if he was flopping we’d certainly be highlighting it, so we probably should when he is delivering too.
And Bolasie is indeed delivering. His pace, trickery, and the direct element he has brought to Everton is worthy of mention in it’s own right, but he has also brought something few probably expected – he has developed an instant connection with Romelu Lukaku, who is back among the goals this season after finishing last looking desperately disheartened under Roberto Martinez at Goodison Park.
Lukaku was among the goals once again as Everton beat West Ham and, once again, it was Bolasie who provided it.
4 – Yannick Bolasie has assisted four PL goals for Romelu Lukaku this season, the most from one player to another. Understanding.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) October 30, 2016
Make no mistake, Bolasie was expensive this summer. No one here is heralding him as the bargain of the century. But taking the chance and paying it appears to have woken and reinvigorated Everton’s prize asset in Lukaku, and that means Ronald Koeman and the Toffees are certainly getting their money’s worth right now.
Barkley beginning to play with others
If anyone neatly encapsulates everything that has been wrong with the way England and the English media treat emerging talent in recent years, then it’s probably Ross Barkley.
That’s not a slight on him either, by the way.
Barkley has always been a player of huge promise from the moment he stepped into the Everton first team back in 2011-12. That’s all it ever was, though. That’s all it ever is with England: promise.
Since then he has been heralded as something, frankly, well beyond his actual readiness to produce. So much so, that at the age of 22 he has 22 full international caps and has been to a World Cup, and all on the back of that wonderful ‘promise’ thing.
His actual game, when you watched him, was incredibly raw. His decision-making was poor, he was selfish, and he was generally too busy admiring his first contribution to an attack to make any telling second one.
And, you know what? That’s absolutely fine. Young players are allowed to lack maturity in their game. They are allowed to need to learn and have plenty of room into develop into without it.
Now, though, Barkley is beginning to look just that little more polished. His movement has become more appreciative of others, his decisions on the pitch are beginning to show that invaluable little touch of experience, and him scoring a goal inside the box from a counter attack he himself started suggests he is finally understanding the need to play with others on a football pitch.
Should it continue, England may actually have a player worthy of the hype that could have so easily broken him.
Hammers lacking vital ingredient
West Ham are having a strange old season and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out why after watching them at Goodison Park: They just aren’t scoring enough goals.
In fact, their 10 goals in 10 games is fewer than the likes of Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, Watford, and equal to West Brom, whose boss Tony Pulis is not exactly famed for expansive attacking football.
That’s no disrespect to any of those teams mentioned, but you’d expect a team with the insatiably creative talents of Dimitri Payet to be one of the more efficient in the Premier League in front of goal.
At Everton, they had their chances and promptly wasted every one of them. Last week, they needed a last-gasp rather freak goal from a centre back to beat rock-bottom Sunderland. It must be immensely frustrating for both Slaven Bilic and West Ham fans.
One little glimmer of hope there may well be the return to fitness of Andre Ayew, who was struck down by injury shortly after his club-record move from Swansea last summer.
Ayew certainly provided cutting edge to the Swans in his first season in England, and if he can replicate that at his new club then he may well provide the vital ingredient West Ham currently lack.