In nine fabulous days Everton have announced to the Premier League that they are serious contenders to finish in the top four and in doing so have demonstrated that they are perfectly equipped to compete with any team in English football. From the 4-0 thrashing of Stoke City, to the fantastic and long overdue victory at Old Trafford, and most recently the forty minute total domination of top of the table Arsenal, Everton have proven they are a team on the up, a team with serious potential, who are ready to push the mega rich superpowers all the way to the end in the battle for Champions League football.
When Roberto Martinez arrived at the club in the summer, many washed up and over the hill pundits were quick to proclaim the inevitable downfall of Everton. After all, the club has been overachieving throughout David Moyes’ tenure in charge at Goodison Park and there was little chance that the former Wigan Athletic manager would be able to continue the good work of his predecessor. Plucky Everton had forced their way to become regular members of the Premier Leagues top seven through hard work, determination and consistent battles against the odds as a team of slightly above average players fought for their boss.
Well the secret is out now (although several reporters still chose to use the words plucky and resilient when describing Everton’s outstanding passing display at the Emirates), the Blues have a brilliant blend of youth and experience, the entire squad possess fantastic ability and with the tactically astute Martinez at the helm Everton have the potential to go all the way to the very top. The Blues out passed and out played Arsenal for 40 minutes on Sunday and even when Wenger adjusted the Gunners tactics to bring them back into the game, the Blues went toe to toe, chance to chance to ensure they left North London with a richly deserved point.
With Everton currently sitting comfortably in fifth place having played every other team in the top half apart from Southampton, few on the Blue half of Merseyside would be surprised to see the Toffees sitting in the top four come the turn of the year. The key in the remaining weeks of 2013 is to sustain the performance levels and secure a maximum haul over the next four fixtures (three of which take place at Goodison Park) to push the Blues onto the coattails of Arsenal.
Winning four consecutive matches in the Premier League is never easy, but teams will be arriving at Goodison wary of the Blues as an attacking force and that has not been said for quite some time. Barkley, Mirallas and Deulofeu have injected Everton with significant and blistering pace, putting teams on the back foot and ensuring the opposition is reluctant to put significant pressure on the Everton defence. This has helped contribute to a large number of clean sheets, as much to the surprise of the media; Roberto Martinez has ensured the Blues have retained their defensive resilience.
As we approach the midway point in the season, Everton have lost just one league match and quicker than anyone expected have adapted to the tactical wishes of their new manager. The Blues have adopted a positive mentality and attacked each of the top sides in the country, playing with style and panache. It is certainly a good time to be Blue.