Home is where the heart is for Everton
Everton’s hopes of Champions League football next season took a battering during the tail end of a stormy winter, but their fearsome record at Goodison Park may well encourage some green shoots of recovery before the end of the campaign.
March 21st, 2014
The Toffees began the New Year just a point outside the top four and harbouring genuine hopes of earning a place at Europe’s top table.
They still cling to the outside chance of reaching the European elite, but a series of damaging results, coupled with the sparkling form of some of their rivals, has seen those hopes fade rapidly.
They have slipped to three damaging defeats away at Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool, games I suppose you could call ‘European six-pointers’. No shame in that I suppose, but they suggest Everton’s squad just isn’t quite good enough to graduate from their usual position of ‘best of the rest’.
A 4-1 FA Cup defeat away at Arsenal earlier this month means they have lost at every team currently above them in the table in 2014.
Thankfully those defeats are the only ones Everton have suffered this year, with their record at Goodison Park as fearsome as ever.
The Toffees only lost one Premier League game at home throughout the whole of 2013, and that came on Boxing Day against Sunderland when they had goalkeeper Tim Howard sent off in early in the first half.
Since that shock defeat they have played six league games at home and won all of them, as well as victories over QPR and Swansea in the FA Cup.
That form has allowed Everton to cling to the coattails of the top four and ensure they have a great chance of at least Europa League football next season.
It also means they have no reason to fear anyone on their own turf, so the presence of Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City on the fixture list will not see them overawed. Indeed Everton took seven points from those three fixtures last season and plenty would back them to do so again this time.
On the away fixture list the trip to the South Coast to play Southampton looks the most daunting, with out-of-form Newcastle and three of the bottom eight completing their fixtures.
All of a sudden the prospect of claiming the majority of the 30 points still on offer between now and May is not such a far-fetched proposition. And should they do that, the European dreams that appeared to be killed off at the start of the year may well be revived.