Kevin Mirallas has offered the spritely jink of magic some felt Everton would lack after the summer sale of Tim Cahill. The 24-year-old summer signing from Olympiakos has shone in recent weeks, his talent and awareness obvious during the two comfortable victories against Southampton and Swansea City.
Those wins were made so easy thanks largely to the deadliness of the Toffees' attacking quartet, interchanging at will and difficult to pick up, personified by Mirallas's tendencies. His unpredictability can even confuse team-mates, but that is nothing compared to the bamboozled look on opposing defenders' faces.
"After we got the money for Jack [Rodwell] we were in a position to do a bit of business," his manager David Moyes said. "We became aware of him because of his goals for Olympiacos, where he played a lot from the left. But we knew he could play on the right and as a striker. I wanted to add some goals. If we get him up through the middle I think we can add more goals to his game."
When drifting centrally, Mirallas has linked up telepathically with fellow Belgian Marouane Fellaini – the pair's one-two set up Nikica Jelavic's first goal against a hapless Saints this weekend.
The flamboyant maverick's commanding debut in the Capital One Cup against Leyton Orient offered a glimpse, but doing it weekly in the Premier League brings greater challenges. Despite that, Mirallas seems to have found his feet quickly on the bigger stage. "I thought it would take longer for him – and for us to get used to him," Moyes said. "He's different to what we've had. The way the players are playing it has given him the freedom and a great platform to play [himself]."
A team gunning for Champions League qualification, which Everton surely are given their impressive start to the campaign, needs a focal point in attack. In 2004/05, the last time they finished fourth, Moyes had Marcus Bent, James Beattie and Duncan Ferguson. Now Jelavic, Mirallas, Fellaini and Steven Pienaar can all act as targets because of the expansive formation.
Expansive but not expensive. Fellaini was the only one of the four to have cost a truly substantial sum. "The boys we've brought in were both for about £5m [Mirallas and Jelavic]," Moyes said. "They're good value because you don't often get an awful lot for that."
Everton: HOWARD 6/10; COLEMAN 7; JAGIELKA 6; DISTIN 6; BAINES 7; OSMAN 8; NEVILLE 7; MIRALLAS 7; FELLAINI 8; PIENAAR 7; JELAVIC 7
Southampton: GAZZANIGA 5; CLYNE 7; FONTE 5; S DAVIS 6; YOSHIDA 6; RICHARDSON 6; LALLANA 6; RAMIRE Z 7; WARD-PROWSE 6; LAMBERT 6 RODRIGUEZ 5
Goals: Everton Osman 25, Jelavic 32, 38. So'ton Ramirez 6. Subs: Eve Anichebe (Jelavic, 76), Oviedo (Mirallas, 80), Distin (Osman, 92). So'ton Reeves (Clyne, 81), Mayuka (Rodriguez, 81), Chaplow (Lallana, 90). Man of the match Fellaini. Match rating 7/10. Possession: Eve 52%. So'ton 48%. Attempts on target: Eve 8. So'ton 5. Ref L Probert (Wiltshire). Att 37.922.Reuse content