Everton manager Roberto Martinez described striker Romelu Lukaku and midfielder Ross Barkley as “unplayable” after they starred in a 3-0 Premier League victory at Southampton on Saturday.
Belgian striker Lukaku struck twice before the interval and young England international Barkley’s curling late effort capped an impressive display by Martinez’s side.
“They were unplayable,” the Spaniard told reporters. “When we play to their strengths they are very, very special.”
Everton laboured for much of last season, having finished fifth in 2013-14, as their Europa League exploits seemed to effect their domestic form.
But with Lukaku looking razor sharp, Barkley commanding the midfield and the likes of England defender John Stones looking calm and composed, Everton produced a faultless display at St Mary’s to move on to four points from two games.
Lukaku struck after 21 minutes, heading in Arouna Kone’s cross after a dazzling counter-attack, and his raw power unhinged Southampton’s defence when he exchanged passes with Barkley before firing his second just before halftime.
Barkley sealed the points in the closing minutes, cutting back inside and placing a shot inside the far post.
“We showed an incredible intent in attacking situations,” Martinez told the BBC. “The same way we had an incredible intent to defend well. Everything had a real meaning today.
“When Rom is in those positions he is as good as it gets, and Ross the same. Ross today was perfect with his responsibility and the way he worked for the team.
“And the goal, you enjoy that as a football lover, the whole stadium thinks he is going to take it first time, an incredible moment of class.”
For Southampton manager Ronald Koeman there are already worrying signs that his side will struggle to match the excellence of last season when they finished seventh after spending most of the season higher than that.
The south coast club sold right back Nathaniel Clyne to Liverpool and French midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin to Manchester United over the summer, having also sold several of their big names before the previous campaign.
Southampton have conceded five goals in two games — a disappointment for Koeman whose side did not lose at home until November last season.
“We lost the game in the first half. We maybe had one or two good chances, but the team was not compact like we normally are,” Koeman told Southampton’s website.
“We had difficulties in that and we gave them too much space to play football and to control the game. The pressing was not as normal.”