Everton go into the Christmas fixture rush in the unfamiliar position of 11th, but where is it all going wrong for the Toffees this season?
Roberto Martinez’s side pushed Arsenal all the way for fourth during 2013/14, finishing five points behind in fifth, but have fallen by the wayside this term and are given just an 18/1 chance of penetrating the Champions League berths.
We put three areas for improvement under the microscope Martinez must address to make sure Everton’s curve is an upward one in the second half of the campaign.
Stop leaking goals, especially at home
When only two sides in the whole division have let in more goals, it doesn’t take a genius to work out where some major attention on the training field is required.
Even more worrying for Martinez is that his side top the charts for the amount of goals conceded at home at an average of 1.75 per Premier League match.
Compare that data with last season’s – Everton had the third meanest defence overall and seventh-best at home – and it is pretty baffling as to why this is the case with no significant departures in the summer.
Start taking points off the bigger teams again
Unfortunately damning stats don’t stop there for Everton, who were a team well able to cope with the Premier League’s big boys last season, but not this term.
Only Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool had better records against top-half sides during 2013/’14, while in nine games against teams above the fold this term Everton have lost five and only beaten West Ham.
Get more out of Ross Barkley
Everton are blessed to have a young player with the abundance of raw talent Barkley possesses. Martinez spent much of last season banging the Barkley drum in fact, and a World Cup spot was nabbed.
However, partly due to injury, and partly due to an over exuberance in possession, Barkley has not kicked on in the same plaudit-collecting fashion this season.
His exquisite goal against QPR at Goodison Park recently served a timely reminder of his ability, but that was his first top-flight strike all season.
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