Are Everton set for a Premier League slump?

Everton Goodison 2

The defeat at Reading at the weekend was unlucky, but with key players dropping out of form and picking up suspensions, and a tricky run of fixtures coming up, could Everton be about to drop down the table?

At the weekend Everton missed a slew of chances, hit the woodwork and were denied at least one good claim for a penalty as they lost 2-1 at Reading.

This was also their first loss in the league since West Brom beat them 2-0 on the first of September, and they still sit fifth in the table, three points off the Champions League spots. However things are perhaps not as rosy as they seem at Goodison Park.

Whilst they have not been losing matches, they have collected a string of draws in games they may have hoped for more from, and retain their league position partly because of the poor form of sides like Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal. Since the star of October Everton have drawn with Wigan, QPR, Liverpool and Fulham, with their only win coming at home to Sunderland. Those aren't disastrous results, and there are mitigating factors such as the red card Steven Pienaar received at QPR, but they are matches where Everton could well have won, especially at Fulham.

Also that run of matches included many teams out of form, and this stands in contrast to the fixtures Everton have coming up. They have Norwich at home this weekend, which would have looked like a banker a few weeks ago, but the relative trajectories of the two sides may make it a tight affair.

They then face Arsenal, Manchester City and Spurs, before going away to West Ham and Stoke.

This tricky run of fixtures wouldn't look so bad if Everton were still showing their early season form, but some key players have dropped their level of performances significantly in recent weeks. Pienaar and Jelavic stand out as two men who look out of sorts, and Moyes will need them firing for Everton to find the net consistently.

In addition, Marouane Fellaini will be missing this weekend, as he is suspended for picking up five yellow cards, and the Belgian has been directly involved in Everton's last six goals in a spell running back to the equaliser against Liverpool.

Everton are still in a good position, and have quality players in all areas of their side, but they need to pick up their form if they still want to be sitting in the top six come the New Year. and they might need to add depth to their squad in January if they want to make a serious run for the top four.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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