Doing the bulk of the unsung work in front of the Everton back four, as others grab the headlines, Gareth Barry usually slips under the proverbial radar. This was not the case against Hull on Saturday, however, as Barry found himself at the centre of a number of potentially game-changing incidents.
Danny Graham and Sone Aluko found themselves on the floor after Barry intervened, although neither tackle warranted the intense scrutiny demanded by Steve Bruce. Barry also played a telling part in the opening goal from Kevin Mirallas, yet it is safe to say that Hull had every right to be aggrieved over that decision.
Controversy aside though, Barry delivered his customary unassuming, composed performance (and more). Taking over the mantle vacated by the injured Darron Gibson, Barry shielded the defence whilst providing the springboard for attacking moves.
Using his astute positional sense to create space for himself and others, the tempo increased or fell depending on the direction provided by Barry. Often-criticised for perceived limitations, Barry is dispelling a number of those myths with ease.
His game-high of 112 touches underlined his positive performance, as the midfield anchorman continued to seek possession throughout the match. Barry was one of the few who coped well with the pressing game employed by Hull.
Three of the top five passing combinations featured the Manchester City loanee, which stemmed from a pleasing change of tact that surfaced when Hull drew level. Not content with simply marshalling the defence, Barry began to roam around the midfield area.
Demanding possession from teammates and driving the team forward, Barry displayed the leadership and experience that is lacking without him. Tellingly, showcasing their improving partnership, James McCarthy to Barry (17) was the most frequent pass combination.
The third-highest tally saw Barry feed Ross Barkley on 14 occasions, while fifth-best was Barry to McCarthy (13). The midfielder also topped the charts on individual passing thanks to 96 attempted passes, which was 59 more than any Hull player – Tom Huddlestone (37).
Barry successfully completed 86 of those 96, for a 90% accuracy – these three figures placed him atop the Everton passing tables on Saturday. Though known primarily for his defensive output, Barry also posted economic statistics in the attacking half and the final third.
His passes in the opposing half accounted for 56 of the 96, with 47 successful for an 84% accuracy. Further forward in the final third, 18 / 21 passes resulted in an 86% accuracy – the accuracy and the number of successful passes were the best final third totals of any player in royal blue.
Overall, and it is testament to his influence and increasingly prominent position at his new club, only Yaya Toure (80.4) and Michael Carrick (79.9) can point to a higher number of passes per match (76.3) this season.
Three chances fashioned in open play – another team-best – further confirmed the prominent role played by Barry in this hard-fought fixture. Nevertheless, in spite of his key role in other areas, Barry is not one to shirk his defensive responsibilities.
Two interceptions gave the player another team-high, while only McCarthy (4) matched his team-mate on attempted tackles. Barry edged out his fellow deadline day signing, by winning each of his four tackles for a 100% tackles success rate.
Adapting his game to suit the occasion, as Everton required greater drive and purpose in attack, Barry ensured the midfield swiftly regained control whenever Hull began to threaten. Composed with and without the ball, this may be the shrewdest of the three deadline day deals, especially when the recent loss of Gibson is factored into the equation.