Everton Becoming Strong Contenders for Top Four Spot
The Ancelotti Effect
Halfway through last season, Carlo Ancelotti was tasked with relieving the club from relegation danger and steadying the ship after Marco Silva’s reign proved to be unsuccessful.
The Toffees picked up 29 points in 19 games to finish in a respectable 12th position and provide some positivity to the Blue half of Merseyside. The real magic, though, came in the summer, when the Italian had the opportunity to build around his current squad.
The club’s inclination to spend, coupled with Ancelotti’s presence made for a particularly exciting window for Everton fans, with James Rodriguez, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Allan, and Ben Godfrey, all arriving at Goodison Park – for considerable fees too.
Perhaps Rodgriuez stood out as the marquee signing and it is fair to say he made an instant impact, but in more recent weeks, Ben Godfrey has emerged as an integral part of the first-team squad and is more than justifying his £25 million price tag.
Anfield Win Reignites a Top Four Push for Everton
The stadium across Stanley Park had been a venue of pain for Everton since the turn of the millennium, with their last victory at Anfield before last Saturday coming in 1999.
The Reds may be going through one of the roughest patches in recent memory, but that is not discrediting the Toffees in their victory last week in any way. Everton defended resolutely for the entirety of the match and broke forward brilliantly when the opportunity came. Ancelotti has not opted to play three central defenders much this season, but his decision to revert to a back five against Liverpool certainly worked wonders.
Not only did the win at Liverpool boost their top-four chances, but it once again highlighted their brilliance away from home this season. The Toffees are averaging 2.17 points per away game this season, compared to just 1.17 at Goodison Park.
Everton are without a home win since a 2-1 victory over Arsenal in mid-December, picking up just a single point in their last five home games.
Everton Appear to Have a More Favourable Run-in Than Top Four Competitors
Combining the points per game of all opponents, only Leicester City and Liverpool have a more favourable run-in than the Toffees.
With the Foxes looking as comfortable as ever and Liverpool continuing to be in self-destruct mode, the Toffees will very much fancy their chances of knocking West Ham out of the much desired Champions League places.
Another potential positive for Everton is that they have played all their matches against the top six at home, with their remaining matches at Goodison Park coming against mid-table clubs.
In the 16 years that the side have missed Champions League action, this is perhaps the biggest opportunity they have had to reach the top four and bring European action back to Goodison Park on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.