Could Everton challenge for the top six again?

Could Everton challenge for the top six again?

Everton have had an interesting couple of years under Roberto Martinez, with a 5th and 11th placed finishes. The Spaniard is certainly the right man for the job, with last season’s disappointment being largely down to the Europa League. Everton have a very good squad, but it is small and the extra games that the Europa League brought had a negative effect. They have started this season off with two wins, two draws and a defeat, which came against the unstoppable Manchester City. If Roberto Martinez was offered this start, he would have taken it and the performances suggest that they are going to push for the top six.

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They made some very good signings in the summer, which went unnoticed, due to none of them costing more than £10m. However in Tom Cleverley and Aaron Lennon, they have signed proven Premier League quality. Also Gerard Deulofeu, Leandro Rodriguez and Ramiro Funes Mori represent potential and could grow into excellent players at the club. Roberto Martinez knows the direction that he wants his club to go in and he is certainly building an exciting squad full of players who are capable of fitting seamlessly into his system.

Also the return to form for Romulu Lukaku has been a welcome boost to Everton as they have tried to set themselves up to get the best out of the Belgian international. Lukaku is a huge talent, with the potential to rise to the very top of the game, and at the age of 22, this could be the season for him to push on and become one of the league’s top forwards. He grabbed a brace against Southampton  and he showed his quality against on Saturday playing an unselfish game against Chelsea, his former club. Last season, he was accused of being inconsistent, but he looks ready this season to develop further and that is worrying for every other Premier League side.

Everton have been known for their defensive solidarity ever since David Moyes was in charge of the club. Last season that dropped off, with Sylvain Distin regressing and there were concerns that Martinez was proving once again that he couldn’t organise a defence, as his Wigan side struggled at the back. However the John Stones and Phil Jagielka partnership looks incredibly formidable so far this season. The former nearly left the club, but it was a great decision to resist bids for him as he could be central to the side finishing in the top six. He is excellent defensively already at the age of 21 and he is going to develop further.

The next few months are going to show us a lot about Everton and if they are in the top six in December, they should be considered real contenders for a European place. Liverpool and Tottenham have looked shaky in the opening weeks of the season, which will encourage teams like Swansea and Everton. The gap at the top of the table is growing, but under the top four sides, there are a group of three of four teams, that are capable of finishing in any order. Tottenham and Liverpool have long been considered the main threats to the top four, but that is no longer the case.