Football

Can Everton qualify for the Champions League?

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It wouldn't be unfair to suggest that, before the start of the season, the general consensus was that the season would finish with Manchester clubs and Chelsea as the top three, and the north London clubs and Liverpool to be competing for the fourth Champions League spot just behind them.

Not everyone of course, but the general consensus. 

Things in football, though, rarely work out in the way that people think. Arsenal have flourished, Liverpool have exceeded expectation and Manchester United and Spurs have underwhelmed to varying degrees.

And then there is Everton. Currently fifth in the league, level on points with Liverpool, and riding high after an excellent start to the season. On Wednesday night they recorded a famous victory over Manchester United, their first in 21 Premier League attempts.

All of a sudden, Everton are being talked about in a completely different context to how they were mere months ago.

No one was sure how the Toffees would do under Roberto Martinez, highly-rated though he was at Wigan, managing a club like Everton is a completely different proposition altogether.

Generally when a manager comes in and tries to alter a teams style and philosophy, there can be a lean period where results can suffer, and players and fans can become frustrated.

An indifferent start where they only managed three draws in their first three games against Norwich, West Brom and Cardiff was followed by a superb 1-0 victory over Chelsea. Where Martinez's side proved that they are capable of Spanish style at the same time as maintaining the Glaswegian substance that David Moyes had spent so many years embedding into the side.

Then Romelu Lukaku arrived on loan and things got really exciting. Suddenly Everton had the goalscorer that they had so badly craved for so many years.

Only twice in the Premier League era has scored 15 or more league goals - Yakubu scored 15 in 2007/08 and Andrei Kanchelskis 16 in 1995/96 - so far Lukaku has eight in 10, and is showing no signs of slowing down.

It is looking good throughout the team as well. Tim Howard is in the form of his life in goal and the central defensive partnership in front of him, Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka, are proving formidable.

Seamus Coleman has emerged as one of the finest right-backs in the country and when it looked as though they might struggle with Leighton Baines absent through injury, Bryan Oviedo came into the side and rattled in two goals in as many games, one of which was the winner at Old Trafford.

In midfield, Gareth Barry appears to have gained a new lease of life since his loan move from Manchester City, and James McCarthy is looking more and more like the Luis Suarez to Marouane Fellaini's Fernando Torres with every passing game.

In support of the big man upfront, his fellow Belgian Kevin Mirallas is looking very good and the youngsters Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu both seem like very exciting propositions.

Over the course and distance of the season, strength in depth might be an issue. But unlike most of the teams around them, Everton do not have European football to worry about. Every last resource can be dedicated to a top four push.

Considering the money that was spent by other clubs in the upper echelons of the league over the summer, a fifth or sixth place finish will still be an excellent season for Martinez and his side, and it is still unlikely that Everton will finish in the top four.

They have, however, entered a debate that they weren't even in at the start of the season, and that makes them a very interesting proposition indeed.

At the start of the season it seemed as though it was going to be four from six. Now, though, it seems more likely that it will be four from seven... 


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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Everton

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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