Ross Barkley has warned Everton’s rivals for Champions League qualification that the big games bring the best out of him.
The midfielder turned in a starring performance on Sunday to help inspire a 3-0 victory over Arsenal. That victory increased fifth-placed Everton’s hopes of securing a top-four Premier League finish as they moved to within a point of the Gunners, who are immediately above them in the table.
And with testing home games against Manchester United and City to come, Barkley is looking forward to having a big say over the closing weeks of the season.
He told the Daily Star: “I love the big games. You have to be a good player to play in big games and shine, and I like getting the chance to step up and show what I am capable of.”
Barkley’s emergence as a first-team regular at Goodison Park -- having previously been on the fringes -- has been a major success story in his team’s season.
The 20-year-old has taken a while to blossom after suffering a triple-leg break when he was 16, and last season even struggled to get a regular game while on loan in the Championship at Leeds United.
But having won his first three England caps this season, Barkley is a strong contender to go to this summer’s World Cup in Brazil.
For now, though, he is focusing on a bid to help Everton qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2005.
He added: “You saw against Arsenal that we can play, and that we’re good enough to be in the top four. On our day, we can beat anyone.
“Now we have to go into every game thinking we can get all three points.
“We’ve got confidence now, and we have to take that into our remaining games.”