7 Reasons to Believe Everton Can Maintain Their Top-4 Position in the EPL
The Everton bandwagon is looking pretty crowded at the moment following another solid performance in the Premier League.
Currently second in the Premier League, Everton were able to bounce back from a horrendous performance away at Leeds United in the Capital One Cup with a comfortable 3-1 victory over newly promoted Southampton at Goodison Park.
Everton have not reached these heady heights since their fourth-place finish in 2005, and although it is early in the season, Everton fans can't help but wonder what is to come.
While some naysayers are adamant that the bubble will eventually burst, Everton are playing the most attractive football in the Premier League at the moment and show no signs of slowing down.
With Wigan and QPR as their next opponents, Evertonians everywhere are praying this form last until, at least the end of October, as they host Liverpool in the Merseyside Derby.
There is no reason that this form shouldn't last the season as Everton can build on their early success and finish in the top four, seven years after they broke the monopoly of the traditional Big Four.
A Great Start
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The 13 points Everton have secured in their six Premier League games so far is the first time the side have started so well under manager David Moyes since 2004-5.
Lest we forget, that season Everton finished fourth.
Moyes has been keen to tether Everton ambitions, still impressing the need for safety rather than booking flights for a European tour.
This time last season, Everton were languishing at the bottom of the Premier League, awaiting their first win of the season.
This year, they've lost once in six League games and are currently second.
Last season's early form seems a distant memory and if Everton can pair this early season form with their usual New Year burst, the Blues will be on course for a top-four finish.
The Form of Fellaini
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Marouane Fellaini has been the star of Everton's season thus far thanks to a string of great performances, scoring three goals in the process.
Fellaini has been given a more advanced role by manager David Moyes, but with the injury to Darron Gibson, has had to check back defensively in recent weeks.
In the season-opener against Manchester United, Fellaini played like a man possessed and was a constant attacking threat.
He has the ability to hold the ball up as well as any player in the Premier League and is equally as skilled with the ball at his feet, showing great awareness in attack and defense.
With Gibson set to return from injury in the next week or two, Fellaini will be able to build on his confident start to the season and has what it takes to drive Everton towards a Champions League place.
Finally, Some Forwards!
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For years, Everton searched in vain for a striker that could carry them to the next level of the English Premier League.
And then they found Nikica Jelavic.
The Croatian international has scored 12 goals in the 15 Premier League games of his young Everton career and he shows no sign of slowing down.
10 goals in his last 11 Premier League games show a striker at his best, Jelavic is the most instinctive goal scorer I've seen in the royal blue of Everton, Everton finally have a striker that can scare the opposition.
With the signing of Kevin Mirallas, who is beginning to come into his own, and the emergence of Victor Anichebe, Everton have what resembles a strong front line for the first time in years.
Remember, when Everton became the first team to break the domination of the traditional Big Four in 2004-5 their main striker was Marcus Bent.
A fearful force of James Beattie, Duncan Ferguson, James McFadden and James Vaughan waited in the wings and Everton still managed to finish in a Champions League spot.
With one great striker and a couple of good ones behind him, Everton have finally become a goal-scoring threat.
Gone are the good old days of Marcus Bent.
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Everton have conceded only six goals in six games so far this season but their defense has been far from its best.
Some suspect goalkeeping early on from Tim Howard and some uncharacteristically bad marking from set-pieces have led to a host of chances for the opposition.
With Howard seemingly over his early season blip after a fantastic game against Swansea, the defense remains a weak point of the side and there is room for improvement.
David Moyes has been equal amounts praised and lambasted for his defensive approach over his decade at Everton but the current squad is an attacking beast not seen at Goodison Park for an age.
If, or when, this defensive improvement arrives, Everton will be able to cement their place in the top four of the Premier League.
Lack of Injuries...So Far
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Please, don't be a jinx.
Everton have been relatively free of injury so far this season, and long may it continue.
When midfielder Darron Gibson was ruled out for several weeks with a thigh injury, the Blues looked set to falter without their midfield lynchpin.
This has not been the case as Everton have continued their strong run of form without the Irishman.
Many thought the midfield would struggle with Phil Neville as a replacement for Gibson but his stat line against Southampton was Xavi-esque: 48 of 51 passes with a 94.1 percent pass completion rate.
When Nikica Jelavic lay in a crumpled heap after a collision with the goalpost against Newcastle United a couple of weeks ago, Evertonians en-masse feared the worst.
As Jelavic hobbled off later in the game, it looked as though the Croatian striker could miss a few weeks but he has recovered well and started against Southampton this weekend.
With their minimal squad depth, Everton need to stay injury free for as long as possible and as long as they are somewhere near full-strength, the Blues can maintain their current form.
I'll say it again for good measure—please, don't be a jinx.
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Manager David Moyes said after the Southampton victory that he would be happy to pay to watch Everton in their current vain of form.
A Scotsman willing to part with his money is kind of a big deal.
Everton are playing sumptuous football at the moment, their passing and movement has been incredible and the great performances are leading to goals and victories.
Before the Southampton game, Everton had a team passing accuracy of 82 percent, completing over 400 passes per game with a chance every six minutes.
These statistics show a marked improvement on last season, and while Everton had a passing flair last year it has become much more pronounced during the new term.
The neighbours across the park may be trying to implement Brendan Rodgers' brand of passing football but it is Everton who are receiving the plaudits and points of the passing approach.
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Even when skies are grey, we've got to look for a silver lining.
Although the Capital One Cup could have represented Everton's best chance of silverware this season, the defeat 2-1 to Leeds United last week means Everton have one less competition to worry about.
Everton looked awful against Leeds, but they comfortably bounced back against Southampton in the Premier League with a 3-1 victory last weekend.
Back in 2004-5, when Everton last finished in the top four, they were dispatched by Bristol City in the then Carling Cup in the fourth round.
An early exit to lowly opposition is by no means a bad thing for the league campaign.
Would Evertonians rather have a cup or fourth place in the Premier League? That's another question. Personally, I would take fourth place, and the European competition and cash bonus it brings in a heartbeat.