As we enter the third month of the Premier League, let’s take some time to look at Everton Football Club and how they have fared so far in the competition. Have they improved upon last year, when at this time they sat in 13th in the table? What transfers, match results and player performances have potentially been a catalyst for where they sit now? Let’s take a look.
If we’re to believe the reported transfer fee’s according to TransferMarkt.co.uk – Everton spent a sizable amount for such a historically prudent organisation, accruing almost £20 million in transfer fee’s to improve their squad. Gerard Deulofeu, Aaron Lennon, R. Funes Mori and Tom Cleverley were the notable incoming playing staff, the first three players accruing a large portion of the monies spent, whilst the ex-Manchester United midfielder arrived for nothing.
The other players that arrived for sub one million pounds are Mason Holgate (DR – Barnsley), Leandro Rodriguez (ST – River Plate), David Henen (LW – Olympiakos) and Louis Gray (GK – Wrexham).
So eight players in total, evenly split between players who Everton can slot straight into their first team squad and the other half into their reserve and developmental squads. All astute signings, it’s been long documented of Tom Cleverley’s desire to join Everton. Aaron Lennon & Gerard Deulofeu provide much needed quality and experience on the right (and occasionally left) flank. R. Funi Mori has only been introduced to 1st team duties recently, but he has impressed in both the win at West Brom and the derby-draw against Liverpool at the weekend.
Southampton 0 – 3 Everton (15th August, 2nd round of Premier League)
Revenge, given that the Saints beat Everton by the same scoreline in December last year. The Saints also finished 4 places & 13 points above Everton last season, in the final European places that Everton have grown accustomed to receiving. Goals from Lukaku & Barkley were the perfect tonic after a 2-2 draw with Watford the week before. A good result that got Everton up and running in the Premier League
Tottenham 0 – 0 Everton (29th August, 4th round of Premier League)
Everton fans know, that if they’re to improve upon last year – they need to get good results against the teams they’ll be in & around and this result was a good away point. Good performances from John Stones (who was at the time being heavily courted by Chelsea) and MOTM Tim Howard ensured Everton kept Tottenham winless at that point and their own desires to be in & around Tottenham at the end of the year intact.
Everton 3 – 1 Chelsea (12th September, 5th round of Premier League)
What can only be described as the perfect capitalisation on Chelsea’s abysmal start to the season. First-half substitute Naismith sent the League Champions packing in an Everton display that was full of pace, power and guile. The opening goal was a 19-pass move that showed Everton have regained their slick passing and interchanging movements that so dazzled in their 4th place finish in the 2013/14 season.
West Brom 2 – 3 Everton (28th September, 7th round of Premier League)
Everton last year were beaten too often, too easily. Not so much this year it seems. 2 goals down after 55 minutes, they might have capitulated last season but MOTM Lukaku (much improve in the second half) and Kone struck 3 times between them in the last 35 minutes to ensure Everton left the Hawthorns with all 3 points. This result left the Evertonians with 3 wins, 3 draws and 1 loss after 7 games.
Ross Barkley – 2 goals, 3 assists – 8 starts.
I’ve watched Ross Barkley several times this season for both Everton and England and it’s obvious what’s changed compared to last year. In previous seasons, he would look to only impact the game in advanced areas, often trying to dazzle to no regular avail. This year however Barkley is everywhere, picking the ball and making it his own, dominating games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Southampton. The England call-up was a just reward and he’s in my eyes, due to take Jack Wilshere’s place in the England side very soon.
Romelu Lukaku – 5 goals, 2 assists – 8 starts.
Constantly being labelled by critics an expensive, inconsistent disappointment, but 43 goals in 91 games for Everton screams otherwise. 5 goals in 8 Premier League appearances this year is nothing to be sniffed at, especially when they came in games against Southampton, in his much-improved second half against West Brom and the equaliser in the Merseyside derby. Sure signs the 22 year old is well on his way to repaying the financial faith shown in him by Roberto Martinez & Bill Kenwright.
John Stones – 8 starts
Chelsea’s pursuit of John Stones was heavily documented, but has it affected his performances – like it might have another youngster? Not a chance. Averaging 2 tackles, 2 interceptions, 4 clearances per game alongside 0.3 fouls committed – John Stones has introduced consistency alongside his step up in quality. He’ll be a huge part of Everton’s season, perhaps his final one? Only time will tell, but if this Everton side continued their improvement, it’ll hard for him to say yes to any potential suitors.
Brendan Galloway – 7 starts
Leighton Baines’ ankle injury in early August was described as a ‘disaster’ and ‘devastating’ by Roberto Martinez. I don’t think he’s still occupying that train of thought now. Brendan Galloway really caught my eye against Chelsea, before that he’d be quietly proficient, but it was the 3-1 win in which Galloway stood up to be counted. Another impressive game in the Merseyside derby and shown that the young English U21 full-back can fill Baines’s boots at both ends of the pitch (albeit he’s not a free-kick taker). Good with and without the ball, and with Luke Garbutt out on loan, it appears Galloway has usurped him as Baines’ successor for now.
Steve Naismith/Arouna Kone – 5 goals, 2 assists, 8 starts.
A hat-trick against Chelsea for Naismith and goals against Watford and West Brom for Kone – all vital goals that have ensured Everton have walked away from those games with 1 point once, and 3 points twice. Both veteran forwards aren’t perhaps the sort of players you’d see in the spotlight but they completely deserve it. Both are hard-working, both have a surprising eye for goal and both carry enough in-game nous from their long careers to be vital for Everton like Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman before them.
Comparison vs last year
After 8 games last year, Everton sat 13th with 2 wins, 3 draws and 3 losses, with a 0 goal-difference. Things weren’t all rosy after the 2013/14 season great performances but things didn’t really improve for Everton – they finished two places higher in 11th, finishing on 47 points.
This season has been much improved, with 3 wins, 4 draws and 1 loss meaning Everton sit a comfortable 7th on almost a quarter of their total points haul from last season. Arguably their lack of involvement in the Europa League has meant that Roberto Martinez can concentrate fully on domestic matters, but who cares about a lack of Europe when you’ve already taken points off Southampton, Liverpool, Chelsea, West Brom and Tottenham?
Everton’s only loss came against a Manchester City side unbeaten until recently. As I’ve detailed above, player performances have improved the team hugely and it’s shown in their results. As long as Everton continue on this new, improved path – I can see them leapfrogging Liverpool in the standings against come the final day of the season and certainly pushing Tottenham for that 5th place.