Roberto Martinez’s Everton are slowly but surely improving. Romelu Lukaku’s goal against Crystal Palace gave the Toffees their first win in any competition in nine games. The Merseyside club have no excuses now but to kick on and start climbing up the Premier League table.
It’s been a very frustrating season at Goodison Park so far. After Martinez guided Everton to an outstanding fifth place finish in his first year at the club last term, the Toffees were tipped to carry on progressing and even challenge the Premier League’s elite to a top four finish – with just six league wins all season, that certainly hasn’t been the case.
But over the last few weeks, Everton are showing signs of reviving their troubled season. After hitting new lows with their fourth straight league defeat in a row, when they were easily beaten 2-0 by relegation-threatened Hull City on New Years Day, the Evertonians have vastly improved and have only suffered one defeat since, which was an eventual penalty shootout loss to West Ham United in the FA Cup. Despite a disappointing 0-0 home draw with West Bromwich Albion, Everton have earned a very respectable draw against Manchester City, and a vital three points against Crystal Palace during that time.
In the wake of securing the loan services of Tottenham Hotspur’s Aaron Lennon until the end of the season, there should now be a real sense of optimism surrounding the Toffees. Lennon still has a lot to offer in the top flight, and should fit into Martinez’s system with ease. As well as capturing the Spurs winger, perhaps more importantly no senior players left Goodison Park, which now gives the Everton boss the platform to crack on in the second half of the season.
Everton’s 12th place in the Premier League table at present is undoubtedly a false position. We are all fully aware that they are much better than their poor league placing suggests, but for one reason or another, things just haven’t quite worked out for Martinez this season.
Despite their indifferent league form, Everton comfortably qualified to the knockout stages of the Europa League. The Toffees won their group with ease, and have set-up a very winnable two-legged tie against Swiss side BSC Young Boys, with both games taking place this month. It’s a competition that Martinez has taken very seriously this year, which may have affected their league form. With the added incentive of Champions League qualification for the Europa League winners this season, Everton will surely be going all out to try and win the competition.
At the start of the season, a top four spot would have been the number one priority for Everton. But they currently sit eight places off and 16 points adrift of that Champions League spot. It’s no doubt been a very disappointing campaign for the Goodison Park faithful, but with the recent arrival of Aaron Lennon, as well as keeping hold of their top players – if the Toffees continue to progress in Europe, then Everton could still save their season yet.