7 Reasons Why Everton Can Finish in the Top 4 This Season
Everton has every chance of finishing in one of the top four spots in the Premier League this season.
This season has seen the Toffees get off to their best start in recent seasons and that has caused a lot of speculation about where the team could end up when all is said and done.
With David Moyes still at the helm, some new additions, and probably the strongest team in years, Everton could end up getting into one of the top four spots.
Here are seven reasons why Everton can finish in the top four this season.
The BBC's Paul Fletcher takes a look at what makes David Moyes so special in this article earlier this year.
David Moyes is one of the top managers in the EPL and has had his Everton squad's competing above their level throughout the years.
As a tactician, Moyes prepares his team for each upcoming fixture and gets them to defend the strengths and exploit the weaknesses of his opponents. The Manchester United game provided a great example of that.
His man-management skills enable him to get the best out of players in virtually every game. Moyes has done all this with little resources but has plenty to look forward to this season with the moves he made in the transfer market.
Steven Naismith, Kevin Mirallas, Steven Pienaar and Bryan Oviedo have all joined the club this summer with Tim Cahill, Joseph Yobo and Jack Rodwell among the notable names headed out of the door.
These players, minus Oviedo, the latest addition, have all slotted into the squad quite seamlessly and that's no surprise given the talent they possess.
Naismith is a Scottish international with plenty of experience in European competition and the Scottish Premier League. He already has two assists for the club.
Mirallas is a part of Belgium's fantastic crop of players and has shown his talents with two goals and two assists so far.
Pienaar, of course, is very familiar with the majority of the team, having played for the club during 2008 to 2011.
Oviedo will be expected to provide cover for Leighton Baines at left-back and could be deployed further up the field if necessary.
Minus Pienaar, these players may have their ups and downs in their debut seasons but with Moyes at the helm they will perform at their highest level the majority of the time.
As we've seen in the first three games of the season, the form of Marouane Fellaini will be key for Toffees.
The big Belgian has a great set of skills which enables David Moyes to use him in a variety of positions on the field.
He has been used as the second striker so far this season and was instrumental in wins against Manchester United and Aston Villa.
As we saw with the game against West Bromwich Albioin, if Fellaini has a bad game Everton suffers. This is not to say that the club are a one-man team by any means.
There are a lot of good players throughout the squad who should be able to figure out ways to win if Fellaini is ever off the pace again. Still, he is the closest thing to a superstar on this squad and his team-mates will look to him to lead the way as the season continues.
The team's three goals conceded in three matches doesn't look good right now but the Everton defense is capable of much better.
The only two teams with a better defensive record last year were Manchester City and Manchester United.
Everton has three great centre-backs in Phil Jagielka, Sylvain distin and Johnny Heitinga, a dependable right-back in Tony Hibbert and another great defender in left-back Leighton Baines.
Injuries are a bit of a worry with this group but when at full-strength and on form they are one of the toughest teams to beat.
Add in the fact that they have Tim Howard behind them and the task of scoring against them becomes even harder.
If Everton can match its defensive efforts from last year they will be in a very good position at the end of the season.
Strongest Squad in Recent Years
We've spoken before about the new additions as well as the defense and all those players are part of the strongest Everton squad in recent years.
The Toffees now have pretty decent depth in all positions and while a severe injury crisis in any area of the pitch would hurt them, just as it would any other team, they should be able to cope.
An injury to a key player like Marouane Fellaini, Leighton Baines or Nikica Jelavic would also be a negative but now the squad has sufficient talent and cover all-round.
The January transfer window could see even more players join the squad and those players, if they are brought in, could provide the Toffees with an extra burst of energy during the midway point of the season.
That's seven teams, eight including Everton, who are vying for four spots. As we saw last season, anything can happen with any team and Everton can benefit from its competitors' various dilemmas.
At the moment Everton is probably better-placed than three of its competitors in Liverpool, Tottenham and Newcastle.
The two bigger clubs are in periods of transition and while there is quality for both sides on the sideline and on the pitch they are not at the level of the other "Big Six."
The Toffees are at least on the same level as Newcastle and positive performances against that side this season would certainly help their cause.
That leaves the two Manchester clubs and the other two London clubs, Arsenal and Chelsea. These four are certainly in a better position than Everton when you consider quality and, in some cases, form.
Everton gained seven points in eight games against these teams last season and have already gone a good way towards that with their three points against United.
Two of those wins came at home, against Chelsea and Manchester City, and if Everton can repeat those results and add a win against Arsenal they will have almost doubled their total against these sides. Add in some possible draws away from home and they would be in a great position.
These teams have all strengthened but there is no knowing what form, fitness or confidence they will be in when they face Everton. If David Moyes can get his side prepared for all these games and deal with his own squads problems they could pull off the results they need.
Since the 2004/05 season this Everton team has been pretty consistent. The teams highest position during the time was fourth place and the lowest was 11th.
Here's a look at the Toffees' position in the table each season since 2004/05; fourth, eleventh, sixth, fifth, fifth, eighth, seventh, seventh.
Everton has been a top eight team during much of David Moyes' reign and while that is a step below the top four, it shows how stable the club has been with him in charge.
This season could very well be the one where they build on that stability and all the reasons prior to this will have an effect. The new additions will help, the problems their competitors have will help and David Moyes will certainly help.