Morgan Schneiderlin says teammate Idrissa Gana Gueye has added a "new dimension” to his game after the Senegalese delivered the latest in a series of complete midfield displays in Everton’s draw with Crystal Palace on Saturday.
Gana’s exemplary form has helped the Blues collect 17 points from their past nine Premier League matches.
The former Aston Villa player has started each of these games, with his dynamic performances in the middle of the park helping to set the tempo for Marco Silva’s expressive team.
As well as his renowned strength in the tackle – only Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi has won more challenges in the Premier League this season – Gana’s incisive passing and capacity to make penetrative runs forward has also impressed.
Playing alongside close friend Schneiderlin in the midfield engine room, the 29-year-old’s expansive range of attributes were on show as he helped Everton dominate proceedings against Roy Hodgson’s Palace.
Gana made five tackles, more than any other player on the pitch. His 86 passes were also a game-high, and he found an Everton teammate with 86.1 per cent of these attempts.
His increasing ambition was reinforced by the fact the midfielder aimed three shots at goal as the Blues committed men forward in pursuit of a breakthrough.
France international Schneiderlin says he is savouring linking up with a player at the peak of his powers.
“Gana is just amazing in what he does,” said Schneiderlin.
“In games and in training, he has added a new dimension to his game. Before you could see his main point was getting the ball back, but now he likes to drive forward with the ball and take people on. He is using all his qualities now.
“You can see he is full of confidence, his passing is very good and the way he recovers possession, too.
“We get on well on the pitch and off the pitch. It is a pleasure for me to play alongside him.”
Saturday’s game represented Schneiderlin’s second successive Premier League start for Everton.
Following his accomplished display in the Blues’ comprehensive 4-0 victory over former club Manchester United at Goodison Park, he was again a composed, authoritative presence in central midfield against Palace.
As well as helping to trigger Everton attacks with his crisp, intelligent passing, his diligent defensive work helped to nullify the home team’s talented forward players.
Palace came into the game on the back of an eye-catching 3-2 victory at Arsenal but were unable to produce a single shot on target against the Blues.
Everton, in contrast, offered a persistent goalscoring threat. Among their 22 shots at goal, the Blues twice struck the woodwork, with Bernard and Lucas Digne coming within the width of a post of breaking the deadlock.
“We did everything to try to win,” said Schneiderlin. “We knew it would be tough to come to Palace but we won a lot of second balls, we had chances, and we had some opportunities in the final third where we could have picked a better pass. We did everything apart from the goal.
“They have two up front and [Christian] Benteke and [Wilfried] Zaha are a real handful. We did very well in that aspect.
“We knew if we let Zaha have a lot of space, that’s what he likes – getting into one-v-ones and taking people on - and it was a very good performance from the team to avoid these situations.
“The resilience is growing. I think, from the first minute, we controlled most of the game. We were stronger in every department.
“It was frustrating we couldn’t win. But if you can’t do that, it is important not to lose and we have to settle for the point.”