Are Everton genuine top four contenders?
After their weekend performance against Fulham, you have to say Everton will fancy their chances for Champions League qualification. The Toffees have had some outstanding results this season; including wins against Chelsea and Manchester United. They have been the most difficult side to take all three points off, having lost just one game all season. This defeat was at the Etihad stadium, back in October, meaning they are currently on a nine match unbeaten run in the league. During this period, they have shown their prowess in picking up points every game, by holding Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal to well contested draws.
The appointment of Roberto Martinez has turned out to be an upgrade over David Moyes. With all due respect to Moyes, Roberto Martinez is tactically far superior than his predecessor. Also, Martinez seems to be more of an inspirational figure to his players. He encourages his players by giving them the freedom to attack and express themselves on the pitch.
The player who has caught our eyes is twenty year old English midfield prodigy- Ross Barkley. He is a player who has made giant strides in the past six months, shedding the tag of a talented starlet to becoming Everton’s midfield talisman. His positive mentality has given a whole new dimension to this Everton attack.
Everton have got the right balance of experience and young talent. Their forwards are young, talented and fearless. In defense and central midfield they have more experienced players. The depth they possess in their squad is remarkable and as a result, they haven’t been affected by the injuries of key players. Roberto Martinez made a few astute summer signings to bolster an already talented squad. He recruited a couple of his Wigan players- Arouna Kone and James McCarthy and shortly before the transfer deadline, he acquired the services of Gareth Barry and Romelu Lukaku on season long loan deals.
Lukaku has been nothing short of fantastic. He has already scored eight goals in the league and looks to have solved Everton’s striker crisis. It is still early days in his career, but he is already showing that he has all the makings of a world class striker.
The contribution of their central midfielders- Gareth Barry and Leon Osman has been critical to Everton’s success. They hold the team together and sit deep in midfield to provide defensive cover. This allows their full backs to make forward runs, a characteristic feature of their game.
Everton are looking very organized as a team and are proving to be very difficult to score against. With eight clean sheets and no more than fifteen goals conceded, they have the best defensive record in the league this season. The tactics and influence of Roberto Martinez is proving to be the difference for the Toffees.
Dec 22 – Swansea (Away)
Dec 26 – Sunderland (Home)
Dec 29 – Southampton (Home)
Jan 1 – Stoke (Away)
Jan 11 – Norwich (Home)
Jan 20 – West Brom (Away)
With a relatively easy run of fixtures coming up, the Toffees will be looking to pick up maximum points during the festive period.
The future looks promising for Everton under new manager Roberto Martinez and slowly but surely they will return to the top.