Premier League Preview: 10 Reasons Everton Can Finish In The Top Four
As we head into the 2010/2011 Premier League season, there is a lot of reason for hope from the team from Liverpool. And that team, by the way, wears blue, not red.
Everton FC, for the first time in years, is undoubtedly favored over their Merseyside neighbors Liverpool to finish higher on the table. In fact, there is reason to think that if they stay healthy, this may be the best side the Toffees have put out in recent memory.
Manager David Moyes, fresh off of stating unequivocally that he is staying put at Goodison Park and is not interested in the sudden opening at Aston Villa, has had a great off-season.
Important players were signed to new contracts and new pieces were brought in. Moyes has done better than most this summer in strengthening his squad.
Here is a list at the ten reasons I think the Blues can finish in the top four and secure a Champions League berth for next year. Although I think they'll fall short of topping Chelsea, Manchester United or Arsenal on the table, I believe they can battle with Tottenham, Villa, Liverpool and Manchester City for that coveted fourth spot.
10. Depth In Keeping
Everton already had one of the more trustworthy keepers in Tim Howard, but just for security and maybe a little healthy competition Moyes has brought in Slovakian international Jan Mucha.
Mucha played well in the World Cup and has good experience with Legia Warsaw as the number one keeper there the last three years .
Mucha is brimming with confidence and thinks he is competing for a number one spot with Howard. He may be the only one who believes this, as Howard is the clear number one. But if Howard should get out of the gate slowly like he did last year, Moyes has a strong option to turn to in the 28 year old Mucha.
9. Blues Are Prepared Not to Get Out of The Gate Slowly Like Last Year
Last season Everton was one of the best clubs in the Premier League from November on. They finished the season as well as anyone, and would have been top four had it not been for the dismal start to the season.
Key injuries contributed to the slow start. If a horrible start like they had is good for anything, it can be from learning from it, and not letting it happen again.
All the key players are back from that squad that stumbled through August, September and October, and they know how crucial it was in their finishing eighth on the table.
This veteran squad will not let this happen again.
8. Jack Rodwell Staying With The Blues
It seemed unlikely Rodwell would remain with Everton following the end of last season. Bigger clubs were courting him, and it seemed almost certain Moyes would end up selling the young, talented midfielder. Many were reminded of the same situation with Wayne Rooney several years before.
But Moyes pulled one out of his hat in getting the young star to re-sign and remain at Goodison Park. No doubt Rodwell will be a regular this year, and with Steven Pienaar's future still uncertain with Everton, Rodwell may be relied upon all that much more.
7. Other Premier League Clubs Not Improving As Much As Everton
Liverpool, Tottenham and Aston Villa jump out to me as three clubs that finished above the Blues on the table last year that perhaps did not have the off-season that Everton had.
The loss of Martin O'Neill at Villa could prove devastating, and some are predicting a mass break-up of the squad.
Liverpool certainly has not had the money to spend as in years past, and a new manager may take a little time to get this team rolling.
Tottenham has made no noteworthy signings in the off-season to improve their club.
6. Phil Jagielka Staying Put
Many thought Jagielka to Arsenal was all but a done deal. Not so fast.
The England international is staying put at Goodsion Park. David Moyes has told his defender that he is not going anywhere, which is fine with Jagielka.
Arsene Wenger reportedly offered Moyes over £10m for the center back. The versatile Jagielka can play at full back and in the midfield in addition to central defence. He is also a more than capable keeper in a pinch.
5. Jermaine Beckford Adds Depth to Forwards
Of all the additions to the Blues, Beckford may end up being the biggest this off-season. Beckford, simply put, knows how to put the ball in the net.
The 26 year old striker scored 31 goals last year with Leeds and 34 the year before. He also has a knack for scoring at crucial moments in a game.
Moyes was able to beat out several rivals in gaining the services of the talented goal scorer.
The only question that remains: Can Beckford do it at this level?
4. Moyes Must Make a Move In January Transfer Window
If it isn't Landon Donovan, it needs to be someone. Moyes knows Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United will not sit still.
The rumors on Landon returning have cooled a bit, but it is a safe bet that at the very least the Blues should be able to get the American in a similar two-and-a-half-month loan as they did last year.
Donovan added renewal and freshness to the team that actually seemed to stay with them after he left.
He could be the difference, if Everton is near the top, in keeping them in the hunt until the end.
3. Tim Cahill Signed to New Deal
A huge off-season move for Moyes was again being able to hold onto a player, this time the like of Australian international Cahill.
The midfielder had a disappointing World Cup, but other than that, it was a great summer for him. He got married and signed a new four-year deal with Everton in the space of a week.
Cahill had a nice rest following the World Cup and seems refreshed and ready to go.
2. Mikel Arteta Signed To New Deal
Mikel Arteta, like Cahill, is an essential part of the Blues' midfield. The difference in the two signings is that Arteta was rumored to be going to one of Everton's rivals, and he admitted as much after signing with Everton that two clubs were close, while it was never really in doubt the Cahill would be extended.
The 28 year old Arteta missed the first half of last year with an injury, but finished the season strong, helping Everton to their fine finish.
Now through five years with the club, Arteta figures to play his career out with Everton.
1. David Moyes In Charge
With each passing year Moyes seems to get better at his job, which is exactly what you want in a manager.
His off-season moves the past couple of years are among the best in European football. Not so much in signing huge names, but in signing the right pieces to fit the puzzle, and extending the contracts of those key players already with the squad.
Recently saying he wasn't interested in the Aston Villa job, I think the only thing that could possibly pull Moyes away would be the offer from Manchester United to replace Sir Alex Ferguson when he retires in two years.
But for now, Moyes is in charge, and this is a good thing for the Everton faithful.