What does Everton's winless October mean?

Everton Goodison 2

Do three games without a win for Everton mean expectations are coming down to earth a little.

I owe a little of an apology to Everton fans. I fear I cursed your team by asking an innocent question a month back.

With the Toffees sitting in second place as September closed, I posed the query over whether Everton could end October in first place.

Four points behind Chelsea, the argument was logical, with the league leaders facing tough ties against Spurs and Manchester United.

Everton meanwhile had two winnable fixtures against Wigan and QPR, and a home derby against Liverpool.

Now the good news is, Everton stayed unbeaten through those matches (with thanks to a generous linesman call yesterday perhaps?), but the bad news is three successive draws has seen their league position slump from second to fifth over that period.

Some may argue that the natural order of Premier League football is simply balancing itself out, and Everton were never destined to be title contenders anyway. That is of course correct, but there is every reason the Toffees should be aiming to do far better than my original pre-season prediction of an eighth placed finish.

That was factoring in a strong Newcastle and rejuvenated Liverpool. Three months into the season, little has suggested that Liverpool have what it takes to finish above Everton, while Newcastle's injury problems to key players suggests they will not feature as prominently as they did last season in challenging for a Champions League place.

David Moyes said he wouldn't consider Champions League qualification until October was out, and the table had started to take shape.

Well it's now October, and it's certainly achievable. The top three of Manchester United, Chelsea, and Manchester City, have started to pull away, on 22 and 21 points, with Tottenham on 17 in fourth.

Everton and Arsenal both sit one behind on 16. There is no reason why Moyes should not believe his Everton side can contend with the North London duo based on what we have seen so far this season.

Tottenham are getting stronger by the game, but Arsenal remain inconsistent. Everton meanwhile have lost just the once, a narrow away defeat to West Brom, the season's surprise package.

The fear is that both Arsenal and Spurs will spend in January, in an attempt to secure the all important fourth spot and even catch the top three. Can Everton afford to? It's unlikely they could on the same scale as the Londoners, who both have substantial funds from selling star players over the summer which remain unspent.

Perhaps the simplest thing for Everton is to simply forget about the bigger picture at present, and get back to winning games. They are three without a league win, and need to get back into the form of the previous month. The return of Marouane Fellaini from injury was a nice bonus yesterday, as was Steven Naismith's first league goal.

Their upcoming games are away to Fulham, at home to Sunderland, and away to Reading. All three should hold no fear for the club, but they will be difficult. A total of just two points from matches against West Brom, QPR, and Wigan underlines the challenges Everton have faced at times this season in matches they are perceived to be 'favourites'.

It's a new type of pressure for Everton, as the attention on their fast start has quickly seem expectations increase. It's time to put those expectations back in the box for now, get back to winning ways and see where it takes them.

What do you make of Everton's performances over the last month, and their prospects for the season?

image: © Ben Sutherland

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