Each time you look at the Premier League table and of Everton’s squad and backing, you really get the sense that this season is David Moyes’ best chance of another top four finish. The recent string of draws may do something to dampen those hopes, but Everton really are the best suited team to completing the top four this season.
Every team fighting for that last top four spot (on the assumption that Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea complete the top three in whichever order) has problems to deal with. Tottenham are still trying to ‘find themselves,’ Arsenal don’t really know how to show up for games, and Liverpool shouldn’t exactly be considered a top four candidate just yet. A lack of respect for West Brom? Not really, they have shown the same sort of surprising fight that saw Newcastle among the top teams for so much of last season. But you’ve got to believe they’ll end up the same way Alan Pardew’s side did, in a Europa League place at best.
Everton, however, have managed to put together a squad that can be imperious on their day and especially at Goodison Park. The draw against Liverpool displayed a very positive step in the right direction; many would have been forgiven for simply chalking that one off as a Liverpool win. Again. Their display against Manchester United should give any team great concern about travelling up to Merseyside, while it’s incredibly difficult to pinpoint a consistent weak spot in David Moyes’ team.
The plus side for Everton this year is that they do not have to deal with the nuisance of a set of Europa League fixtures, ones that may amount to something closely resembling another league entirely when you total the potential number of games. It should be clear sailing for this team, who have started the season uncharacteristically well.
Maybe the recent run of draws is that famous slow start finally kicking in after realising it’s summer holidays were over, but there’s something different about this season’s Everton team. It doesn’t just equate to the rest of the league being patchy and perhaps acting as the makers of their own doom, but Everton seem to have the right pieces in every position.
They’re much too good to slip away come Christmas, with key players in the team hitting the right notes and numbers so far this season. They have become a team with one of the most impressive strikers in the league, a beast of a midfielder who has the ability to be a rampaging threat at any ground in the country, and a back four who comprise a group players who would not go amiss in one of the other top teams in the league.
But putting all that aside, it’s the crowd at Goodison Park that can really drive this team home and towards that fourth spot. The crowds in the Bundesliga are so often talked about as impressive, noisy and everything you’d expect from a stadium full of football fans. Everton do have something in their home support that can form that mythical 12th man. It’s good football on the pitch married with that intimidating atmosphere up north.
Maybe the lack of a genuine creative midfielder will become their undoing as the season progresses. They’re powerful, full of attacking desire and scoring ability, but sometimes the possession doesn’t always get churned into genuine scoring chances. But Everton are finding other ways to combat that, using their abilities from the flanks as one of their greatest weapons. Leighton Baines, meanwhile, remains a threat from dead ball situations and Marouane Fellaini can wrestle with the best in an aerial duel.
There’s always a fear that this could lead to something of a backlash if Moyes doesn’t fulfil the early promise of something outstanding this season. But I’d like to think fans and those of Everton specifically will know better. Even if you look at the lack of wins in recent games, Everton are still picking up points; none of the other top four candidates have been as consistent as to only lose one game so far this season.
People talk about teams like Manchester United or Manchester City picking up valuable points from losing positions, citing that it all adds up come the end of the season. So far, besides a few slip-ups here and there, Everton aren’t doing a whole lot wrong. They’re a team very much behind the manager, with no internal difficulties that might be present at other clubs.
If last season was anything to go on as to how unpredictable and inconsistent many teams can be, then there’s no reason why Everton can’t break away from that trend and find themselves in a position of wealth and great adventure come May.