By the time Match of the Day starts on Saturday, Everton will have played every member of last years top 8 in their first 10 fixtures. I think you’ll agree that that is a horrible way to start a season!
The positive thing is, whatever happens at the Emirates on Saturday, the Toffees could only have lost a maximum of 3 of those matches. Furthermore, if we did lose on Saturday, the three matches would all be to the sides that currently occupy the top 3 spots in the league.
While it’s disappointing that the two losses we have sustained so far have both occurred at home, it actually doesn’t matter a great deal. Four of our five home matches have been against the Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Chelsea.
Only losing two is impressive, compounded by the fact that the two we lost – the Manchester matches – were against sides more likely than not to be the ones fighting for the title come the end of the season.
On top of that, our away form has been impressive – indeed, we are currently unbeaten on the road. We have demolished Southampton, earned respectable draws at Swansea and Tottenham, and came from two goals down to beat West Brom. In those four matches, we’ve kept 3 clean sheets, implying a solid defence.
Finally, we’ve done all this whilst in the middle of an injury crisis. At one point, we were missing Leighton Baines, John Stones, Seamus Coleman, Tom Cleverley and Steven Pienaar – all considered first team players. Our fringe players have stepped up to the mark.
Overall, while I won’t say we are bound to have a great season, I think the signs are pointing towards a positive year. Optimism isn’t a word associated with Everton however it’s something I’m beginning to experience.