When Roberto Martinez interviewed for the top job at Goodison Park, he apparently had a target to get Everton into the top four. Most observers, me included, thought this sounded like the usual banally positive message that is necessary for all incoming managers.

Looking at Everton's summer acquisitions, though, it's clear that Martinez smelt an opportunity. The 'big' teams  - save Arsenal - all had new managers and were remodelling their squads. Plus, he had inherited a strong foundation and was going to build on it.

Marouane Fellaini was sold but strength in depth was added to the midfield through the purchases of Gerard Deulofeu, James McCarthy and Gareth Barry. Martinez then pulled off the signing of the window, getting Romelu Lukaku in on loan from Chelsea.

The Toffees have often in recent past looked one top-notch striker short of really kicking on. Now they have one. The only question was, would this transfer policy deliver on the pitch?

Come mid-December, the answer must be yes. Lying in fifth with 31 points - only four points off the league leaders Arsenal - the blue half of Merseyside has genuine reason to be excited.

The points total alone, however, doesn't tell the full story. This season Everton have suffered only one defeat, losing 3-1 to Man City away.

Everton have also beaten Chelsea and Manchester United along with draws against Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham. In the big games that test out how good a team is, Everton's strength has been proven.

After coming through a tricky run of fixtures in November/December, the Toffees now find themselves with a run of six very winnable games leading up to the Merseyside derby.

If they can string together a run of wins against Swansea, Sunderland, Southampton, Stoke, West Brom and Norwich then they will surely find themselves in the middle of a title challenge. Especially since the other 'big' teams are frequently dropping points.

The biggest danger to Everton now is a spate of injuries on top of those to Leighton Baines and Deulofeu. Martinez and Kenwright should head this off by investing some money in the January transfer window.

It would be a shame for Everton to look back in the summer and think they could have achieved something spectacular had they not run out of players.

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Topics:
#Everton
#Premier League
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