Steven Naismith’s Everton claims may not be such a pipedream

Steven Naismith’s claims that Everton can push for a Champions League spot this season may not be  such a far-fetched statement, if the betting is to be believed.

The Toffees forward made the claims after his side bagged a point in the Merseyside derby on Sunday afternoon.

“The top four has probably turned into a big six or seven,” he told the Mirror.

“Spurs are consistently fighting for it, we did it a couple of years ago. We feel we’re good enough to be up at that mark.”

Available to back at 20/1 before a ball had been kicked to be part of the top quartet in the division, a solid start to the campaign, in which Manchester City have been their only conquerors, has seen Roberto Martinez’s men cut to 8/1 to reward Naismith’s faith.

While the likes of Crystal Palace, Leicester and West Ham remain above them in the pecking order, the omission of Chelsea from the upper echelons of the table makes that fourth spot one that plenty of teams are eyeing up.

The 29-year-old former Rangers man has been in inspired form in his eight appearances for the Goodison Park outfit this term, playing a starring role in their 3-1 victory over Jose Mourinho’s champions.

Of their seven opponents this year that were in the Premier League last term, Everton have picked up six more points than in 2014-15, continue at that rate of progress and another foray into Europe cannot be ruled out.

The distractions of the Europa League that cost them in the mid part of the season domestically last year have gone making a concerted push for domestic glory all the more likely.

An unbeaten run of eight games in all competitions will work wonders for morale, and the fact that they have taken nine points off five teams that finished above them last term speaks volumes of their progress.

There is still a long way to go, and with two tough games against Manchester United and Arsenal next up, the 17/10 on the blue half of Merseyside making the top six looks more attractive, but with others disappointing this year could see a shock or two in the final standings come May.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.