The FA Cup final gave us a perfect showcase to see how much John Stones has learned this season. The first half was a torrid experience for the 21-year-old but in the second half he was much better before Anthony Martial drove a nail into Everton’s coffin.
This was typical of the season for Stones, some parts were good and some were bad but nothing as good as his first season when he broke into the team and almost signed for Chelsea. His progression hasn’t been as good as people expected and more than that, it seems he has forgotten how to defend at times this season.
Stones hasn’t been as commanding this season as he was in the last season, this isn’t just a problem with him, Roberto Martinez has not been able to grow on his first season in charge of the Toffees and the team have conceded 48 goals in 34 games, not a good record, even when you consider they reached the FA Cup semi-final.
The English defender though doesn’t seem to have the stomach for a battle as well. In the Merseyside derby when Everton were down to 10-men and in need of someone who can keep the team together, Stones though took off and wanted to be substituted due to cramps, not the best way to show your character in such an important game.
Liverpool won that game 4-0 but more than that, Stones also cost his side with a poor pass as the Reds scored the third goal from that. In fact, Stones has been one of the players who has created a number of defensive errors and has cost his side with three goals directly from his mistakes.
That is a league high and tied with Aaron Cresswell of West Ham. Chelsea need someone who doesn’t make as many mistakes and is good in keeping possession or playing out the ball. This has been another feature of Stones’ game which has regressed.
The 21-year-old always tries to play the ball out rather than putting it into touch. Time and again this season he has been caught out by the opposition as he tries to be extremely intricate, a defender does not need to be fancy with the ball at his feet, the first job is to ensure his team are not in danger of conceding but Stones seems to think he plays as a midfielder for Barcelona and not as a defender for a side that really needs to keep a clean sheet or two.
Stones seems to have lost his quality or was he also just a one season wonder? Either way, the ludicrous amount that Chelsea wanted to pay for him shouldn’t be wasted on the Englishman but rather on proper central defenders who have the experience needed to do well in the Premier League.
Antonio Conte would be wise not to waste money on someone who isn’t guaranteed of doing well all the time and with him knowing the art of defending, you can be sure that he will bring some quality from Italy and that too on a bargain.