Everton FC have to stay streetwise if they’re to fulfil top four ambitions
OVER the course of the Premier League, there have been sides who have perfected the art of winning when not at their best.
Being ‘streetwise’, ‘winning ugly’ or whatever you want to call it, is often the difference between being good and being great.
For Everton it could mean the difference between the Champions League and the Europa League.
Manchester United, the 12 time champions, have made winning in such a way a habit and they were back up to their old tricks at Villa Park on Saturday evening.
Earlier in the day, Everton enacted something similar at Goodison Park when Sunderland threatened to end the Blues’ run of four consecutive draws with a deflating defeat.
But the home side overturned a half-time deficit and victory not only maintained their position in the top four but went some way to answering a question posed by their manager earlier in the week.
Such has been the quality of the Blues’ start to the season that David Moyes has been asked if this is the best side of his reign.
However, he has been unable to offer a definitive answer.
Comparing them to the Champions League qualifying team from the 2004/05 season was difficult, he said, because there remain question marks in certain areas about this crop. Everton are averaging nearly two goals a game and are keeping Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur out of the top four but the manager still feels they have underachieved.
After 10 games of the campaign in which they qualified for the Champions League, Everton were five points better off than the current side were at the same point.
And Moyes wanted to know whether today’s side had the ability to “grind out results” and squeeze maximum points out of ordinary performances like that top four team had done so well.
Everton were far from average in their 11th game of the season on Saturday afternoon but when the going was getting particularly tough, they found a way to win.
There will be times when Everton may have to play less on the wonderful side and more towards the 1-0 type of performance.
Especially so at Goodison Park.
Unbeaten at home since March 21 when Arsenal grabbed a 1-0 win, opponents will become ever more stubborn, unadventurous and obdurate the longer Everton’s start to the season continues.
Sunderland were resilient, well organised and when the spark of recent weeks was absent from Everton’s play they needed to call on other, less eye-catching qualities.
But it was encouraging.
Everton not only have that exciting glint in their eye this season but also an air of reliability about them.
Of course, the form and fitness of key individuals remains vital to their cause.
And though Everton have assembled a squad of top level performers, there’s little doubt Marouane Fellaini remains their talisman and game-changer.
The towering Belgium international is racking up the man-of-the-match performances and already has six league goals in 11 games.
Fellaini’s best season in front of goal was his first in English football when he scored nine times, so he looks ready to set new standards.
On an individual front that may be what makes the difference but should the Blues reach 61 points, as they did in May 2005, then they will certainly be in the mix for the top four.
And if by the 20th game of this season their form is in line with that team – who had accumulated 40 points by then – maybe Moyes should be able to answer with a little more certainty.
As one of the original founder members of the Football League, Everton are a club steeped in history and tradition and have played more seasons in the top flight of English football than any other club. Their association with the greatest cup competition in the world has thus conjured some wonderful moments, and this offering from Sport Media celebrates a century of memories since their first FA Cup success in 1906. Celebrate a century of memories with 'Everton's FA Cup 100'. Read