This could soon prove to be one of the best sides Everton has produced in a long time
With 11 games completed in the Premier League, we’re now almost a third of the way through the season. Much to everyone’s surprise, Everton FC are still in contention among the league’s elite.
It’s a stunning change of scenery for a club that haven’t finished inside the top four since the 2004-05 season.
As it stands, the Toffees are in fourth place at 5-5-1 with 20 points. They’re only seven points off the pace of league-leading Manchester United. Furthermore, since a 2-0 loss to West Bromwich Albion on Sept. 1, they are undefeated in eight games.
All this has led many to question manager David Moyes on whether this is the best side he’s managed since taking over at Goodison Park back in 2002.
However, Moyes isn’t ready to make that leap just yet. Everton have to keep up their solid level of play for the Scotsman to bare any claim to that title.
Here are three reasons why Everton are contending thus far.
Fellaini's stock has only reason during this season thanks to his stellar form
Besides possessing one of the most intimidating hairstyles in the league, Marouanne Fellaini also poses a formidable threat in front of goal.
The 24-year-old has already found the back of the net six times through 10 games this season.
The total already matches the mark Fellaini tallied for both club and country all last season in 49 total appearances. He’s also only two off the pace of his career high of eight league-goals during the 2008-09 campaign. Furthermore, his three assists are only two shy of the career-high mark he set last season.
The Belgian international’s versatility has him in sole-possession of the team lead in both categories.
But what has made Fellaini stand out apart from his peers, is his ability to step up when the situation demands it. Five of the Belgian’s six goals this season have served as either game-winning or equalizing scores.
If Everton are to keep hold of their talisman playmaker they will most definitely have to build upon their impressive start.
Ironically, Fellaini will be a necessary component to such a run.
Jelavic has continued the goal-scoring prominence he displayed in the Scottish Premier League
Nikica Jelavic burst onto the scene after scoring a total of 47 goals in 72 club appearances for the Scottish Premier League’s Rangers and the Austrian Bundesliga’s Rapid Vienna.
After arriving at Goodison Park during the January transfer window, the 27-year-old made an immediate impact by netting nine goals in Everton’s final 13 fixtures.
This season Jelavic has tallied five scores in 10 appearances for the club. Most recently he notched the game-winning goal in a vital league contest with Sunderland on Saturday.
Much like Fellaini, the Croatian international has shown a knack for coming up with goals when the club needs it most.
All five of Jelavic’s goals this season have either been game-winning or equalizing scores. In fact, the club is 3-1-0 when the Croatian striker finds the back of the net.
Although he has had a recent out-of-form spell—up until Saturday he hadn’t scored in over a month—Jelavic’s impact on the Toffees isn’t lost.
If he can get back on one of those goal-scoring tears he has been known to possess in recent years, there will be no ceiling on how high Everton can climb this season.
Moyes demands more this season from his players
After 10 years on the job one couldn’t be blamed for losing their passion for their craft. That can’t be said about Everton manager David Moyes.
Moyes has been at the helm at Goodison Park for 10 years and 241 days. That makes him the third-longest tenured manager behind only Manchester United’s Sir Alex Fergusen and Arsenal’s Arsene Wenger.
Although Moyes has only led the Toffees to as high as fourth in the table, the Scotsman has all the desire to surpass that mark and more.
The 49-year-old has publicly claimed that he has a strong desire for European football. That’s something Everton haven’t taken part in since reaching the last 32 of the Europa League three seasons ago.
The club have only qualified for the Champions League once under Moyes—the 2004-05 season.
As it stands, the Toffees are currently sitting at fourth place, which would qualify them for the Champions League. Under the competition rules, the top three Premier League sides are guaranteed a spot in the tournament, with the fourth entered into Champions League qualification. The fifth side will have to settle for the Europa League.
A large part of Everton’s resurgence has to be credited towards Moyes’ strive for perfection.
Moyes recently told reporters:
Our start has been good. But it could have been a bit better. We are probably a little bit disappointed that we aren’t further up the league. We could easily be in a higher position.
Also, Moyes’ ability to change tactics on the go has been a large part of his success.
Following a valiant come-from-behind victory on Saturday, midfielder Fellaini credited Moyes' tactical switch as the catalyst to their efforts.
It’s strategy like this combined with a strong desire to win that has Moyes leading Everton fighting towards a life-long dream of his: to win the Premier League.