Everton midfielder Barry makes a strong case for the defence
EVERTON midfielder Gareth Barry admits it is easy to get carried away with the team's attacking resources, but warned they cannot forget about the defensive side of the game.
Having eased into a 2-0 lead against struggling Sunderland last Sunday, the Toffees looked set for a comfortable win, but conceded twice either side of half-time to give themselves an unnecessary problem.
The fact they ran out 6-2 winners, with Arouna Kone scoring a hat-trick, was as much down to the Black Cats' inability to close the game down as it was to Everton's attacking invention and Barry says they cannot always rely on goals to get them out of trouble. Roberto Martinez's men have already conceded 15 in 11 games, which is joint second-worst among the Premier League's top 14 sides.
"We are enjoying the win, but the experienced players know, on another day, you want to be a lot tighter," he said.
"It is important we don't get away from the fact there is a lot of confidence from the attacking flavour but, throughout the week, we will be working on that attacking-defending balance because we don't want to be giving away too many chances like that.
"Their [first] goal changed the game. If we are going in [to half-time] at 2-0, we are really comfortable and the confidence is different and their attitude to the second-half is different. There are a lot of lessons to be learned there as, with 30 seconds to go, we've got the ball in their half and, all of a sudden, it's in the back of our goal.
"We should be better than that and there is experience on the pitch to stop that happening, but fair play to the lads, we bounced back from conceding the second and created a lot of chances."
However, goals are what gets everyone excited and Barry knows they have a lot still to offer in that department. Kone has now scored five league goals in his last six starts to sit just one behind Romelu Lukaku, with whom he has struck up a profitable partnership. Throw exciting winger Gerard Deulofeu into the mix, along with the considerable talent of Ross Barkley, and Everton have the capability to take many opponents apart.
Kone's hat-trick also coincided with the triggering of a 12-month contract extension as a result of an appearance-based clause and represented a significant turnaround in fortunes for the Ivorian, who has spent much of his time injured at Goodison Park.
"Arouna has had a couple of tough years with injury and people questioning the transfer, but we have seen glimpses in training when he has been fit that, when he gets a run of games, he will be able to do what he has done and him and Romelu have struck up a good partnership and are causing problems," said Barry.
"It is not too often you see two strikers playing together, but I am sure the manager has tried to get Arouna in the team with Rom because they are both goalscoring threats."
Deulofeu also impressed with a goal and two assists and, at 21, the Barcelona academy graduate has plenty of time to develop.
"The goal will give him massive confidence and he plays for creating chances probably more than scoring," added Barry.
"You forget how young he is because his name has been around for a bit and he's had a spell here already. But like a lot of young players in the dressing room, they are still learning and will make mistakes and that will frustrate the fans sometimes but, ultimately, if they keep improving they are going to have a good career."
Sunderland manager Sam Allardyce has plenty to concern himself with as, in addition to questioning his side's tactical discipline, he has a mounting injury list after captain Lee Cattermole went off in the first-half.
"We can't afford too many injuries in the position we are in if they are going to be my best players," he said.
"Sooner or later, I will make my mind up and decide who is good enough and those who are going to fight and produce performances I want, I will stick with."