Everton may look fairly comfortable sat in 12th position in the Premier League, but a closer look at the table shows their season is finely poised, with just four points separating them from the drop-zone.
Currently 25/1 shots to be relegated out of the Premier League for the first time in their history, the Toffees could look a spot of value to be playing Championship football next season.
Roberto Martinez’s men are woefully out of form.
They have won only one of their last 10 league matches, and picked up just six points from a possible 30, and will be nervously looking over their shoulder at the chasing pack, and for good reason.
The Christmas period is traditionally seen as a nightmare period for clubs, being forced to a large number of games in a short space of time, but for Everton it should have offered a respite.
For the Toffees’ nemesis this season seems to be success in cup competitions, and with the Europa League set to make a return in three weeks time, their downfall could continue.
Often mooted as a terror for subsequent games, the added pressure of performing in an extra competition has been no more obvious in recent years than the case of Wigan Athletic.
A run in Europe following their FA Cup heroics two years ago saw the Latics slide into Premier League oblivion, dropping down to the second tier that same season.
Worryingly for them, Everton have won just two of their six matches that have followed a foray into Europe, stretching to two of nine when looking at all cup competitions.
And looking ahead, a run against continental opponents could cause strife for fixtures against teams the Merseyside outfit will be fighting relegation against.
A visit of Leicester comes directly after their first leg against Young Boys next month, while if they get through them their last 16 ties will prelude a match against Newcastle and a trip to QPR.
These are all games the Blues need to be winning if they are to stave off the spectre of relegation, and with a curse seemingly placed on them for league ties after cup fixtures, the pressure will be on.
And with a relatively small squad, they cannot afford to pick up any injuries that the added fixtures up the risk of as the fixtures pile up.
So for now, there is still plenty of time for the likes of Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas to turn the north-west club’s season around, but for this season at least, a run in the Europa League is the last thing they need.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
Think Everton are real dark horses to go down? Back them to be relegated using your free £25 bet and pick up £625 if they are playing Championship football next season!