Everton's 2-1 win over Hull took them to 15 points from their first eight games, the exact return David Moyes managed at this stage last season.
Back then that was good enough for a top four standing, while 12 months on, the Toffees lie seventh—albeit just two points off second.
It's been an impressive start for Roberto Martinez, given the size of his challenge. He's introduced several new personnel, to both his playing and coaching staff, and attempted to alter methods applied a particular way for over a decade.
It's been an enjoyable ride so far, but how do the Toffees match-up statistically to last season's team? Here's a look at a few regular categories.
|Comparing the Stats to Last Season|
|Average Per Game||2012/13—whole season||2013/14—first eight games|
|Shots (on target)||16.7 (5.4)||14.3 (5.6)|
While it's still a little early for any official judgements to be made, it's encouraging to see progress in every area, with each improvement leading to a more controlled game—Martinez's primary objective.
The first numbers to jump out are Everton's leap in possession and passing numbers.
They keep the ball five percent more than last season, they pass four percent better and are averaging almost 90 more passes per game. The last match against Hull saw 93 more passes completed than in any game last season, which is a radical difference.
These numbers won't guarantee a win but they increase the chances of getting one. They show how Martinez's side have been dictating terms far more and have a better platform to dominate and subsequently win from.
The more an opponent is starved of possession, the more tired they get, and the less opportunity they have to manufacture their own attacks.
The Toffees were more direct under Moyes, which can be better or worse on certain days, but is far less consistent and clearly allows the opposition more time on the ball.
While Everton haven't quite averaged as many shots as last season, their shooting accuracy is higher, suggesting the chances have been a little more clear cut. At the same time, opponents have found it slightly harder to register shots at goal, which is linked to the Toffees' increased possession.
Crosses have also been reduced, again due to Martinez's desire to control games. Deliveries from out wide can be effective—especially when fired in by the likes of Leighton Baines—but are essentially a gamble.
Better chances can be fashioned out with quick, intricate passing, clever movement and sharp touches, which is the crux of Martinez's approach.
Finally, arguably the most telling statistic is Everton's sudden proficiency as a dribbling side, moving from one of the lowest dribblers to the league's second best.
This highlights just how much Martinez favours an attacking approach where his side aren't afraid to express themselves. Having the explosive ability to suddenly beat a man also makes a short-passing game far more potent and unpredictable.
The Toffees were clearly effective under Moyes, but were always a little more conservative in attack.
They may have the same points return as at this stage last season, but against the same opposition, Everton have actually done better thus far under Martinez.
Six of their eight opponents were played in the Premier League last season, with Martinez's side taking 11 points compared to the eight managed from the same six fixtures last year.
Everton's new manager will ultimately be judged on a final points return, but these early changes suggest he's well on his way to establishing his own effective brand of style.
Statistics via WhoScored?
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