In the wake of a battling point with Manchester City, and then a spirited FA Cup defeat to West Ham United, are Everton finally turning the corner in what has been a turbulent season so far?
After Roberto Martinez guided Everton to an impressive fifth place finish last term, many fans and pundits alike predicted the Merseysiders to have another successful campaign, and push for a top four place. Unfortunately for the blue side of Merseyside, things probably couldn’t have gone any worse – despite comfortably qualifying for the knockout stages of the Europa League, the Toffees’ Premier League form has been woeful. Everton sit in 12th place after 21 games, with just five wins to their name.
It was always going to be extremely difficult to juggle European exploits with domestic, but Everton seem to be suffering more than most. They were disappointingly knocked out of the Capital One Cup at the first hurdle – suffering a 3-0 defeat at Swansea City, and terrible league form has seen the Everton boss come under real pressure from the Goodison Park faithful to turns things around as soon as possible.
But after a very creditable 1-1 draw with champions Manchester City last Saturday, Martinez took his side to east London on Tuesday to face West Ham in an FA Cup third round replay. It was a cracking game of football that both sides deserved to win – Everton were spirited, but they eventually lost on penalties. The Toffees showed real character at Upton Park, and after coming from behind with ten men to take an extra-time lead, they would have been disappointed not to have gone on and won the tie. But if we needed any reminding of what the Toffees are capable of, then they more than proved their abilities at the Boleyn Ground.
Everton must use their recent pick up in form as the catalyst to get their season back on track. They only sit three points off the relegation zone, and although it seems extremely unlikely – if the Toffees don’t improve – they could well find themselves fighting for their Premier League lives later on in the campaign. We all know what Everton are about, they have a superb squad, and you don’t just become a bad team overnight. It’s pretty much the same side who fired them to a fifth place finish last term, and surely it’s only a matter of time until we start seeing them climb the Premier League table
With goalkeeper Joel Robles’ recent excellent performances, Martinez has a real goalkeeping decision on his hands – does he stick with the 24-year-old Spaniard, or does he draft Tim Howard back in when he returns from injury? Furthermore with winger Kevin Mirallas performing outstandingly when he came on at Upton Park, and John Stones’ recent return from injury, do the Everton faithful finally have some real reasons to be cheerful?
Martinez’s side haven’t tasted a league victory since beating relegation threatened Queens Park Rangers 3-1 at Goodison Park in mid-December. Since then, the Toffees have lost four of their last five Premier League encounters – only scoring three goals in the process. But after going a goal down against City to come back and get a point, as well as their spirited performance against the Hammers, all the signs are there that Everton are starting to show the capabilities to turn their disastrous season around.