Who Should Start in Place of Gareth Barry: Tom Davies or Tom Cleverley?

In Chelsea’s 5-0 drubbing of Everton, Gareth Barry picked up another yellow card, forcing him to miss the first game after the international break against Swansea City. This leaves Ronald Koeman with an interesting conundrum. While Idrissa Gueye will be back, he will need someone to partner up with him in the defensive midfield, preferably someone who is more of a box-to-box midfielder.

Barring a formation change, Everton have two options: Tom Davies or Tom Cleverley. Right now, James McCarthy, Muhamed Besic, and Darron Gibson are out injured. If McCarthy were fit, he would almost certainly start. However, in this situation it is assumed that none of those players will be available.

The Case for Tom Davies

Davies is a highly-touted prospect for England, even training with the full national team in the past, as well as being captain for the Under-17 World Cup in 2015.

He made two appearances for Everton last year, looking strong in both and picking up the man-of-the-match award for the final game of the season. This year, he trained with the first team during pre-season and has been switching between the senior side and Under-23 team throughout the season.

Against Chelsea, he came on in the 66th minute for Barry. His performance didn’t set the world alight, but the most important thing is he came into the game in a tough situation and made the best of it. His solid showing in this game proves that he deserves more playing time.It is time he is given a full run-out in the Premier League.

The Case for Tom Cleverley

Cleverley was signed during the final summer transfer window of Roberto Martinez’ time at Everton on a free transfer from Manchester United. During Martinez’ time he mostly played on the wing, but Koeman has also used him as a defensive midfielder. Cleverley has been a regular fixture on the bench this season, making seven appearances this year in the Premier League, and two in the EFL Cup.

He played the whole game against Chelsea, and worked hard as Everton were overrun defensively, but he was not able to contribute much going forward. Overall, he did the job he was asked to do, but it wasn’t enough to inspire excitement in the fans.

Why Tom Davies Should Start

In possession, Davies and Cleverley were about the same against Chelsea. Defensively, Cleverley was a little better. When Gueye is playing, he is the primary defensive midfielder, and therefore his partner should be more of a box-to-box midfielder. Clearly, those requirements favour Davies, because he is more likely to make something happen going forward.

It is time to give Davies more playing time. He is younger and more athletic than Cleverley. After the huge defeat, the fans deserve some excitement at Goodison Park, which this young talent could bring.

At the moment, Everton’s Under-23 team are serious contenders to win their league. This shows that in the first-team could easily challenge for the Premier League title in a few years. The player who will most likely be anchoring any title-challenging squad will be Davies.  If given experience now, when the time comes he will be ready to be called upon.

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