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Seven Games In: Weighing Everton's Start with Past Years in the David Moyes Era

Despite a somewhat disappointing 2-2 draw with Wigan, Everton are still sitting in a great position seven games into the 2012-2013 league season: 4 won, 2 drawn, and 1 lost for a total of 14 points, good for 4th in the Premier League. How does that start compare to others under manager David Moyes, and what does that say about how this year is likely to turn out?

Stu Forster - Getty Images

Through seven games: 8 points (2 won, 2 drawn, 3 lost)
Pace: 43 points
Final position: 7th (59 points)

David Moyes's first full season in charge started out evenly enough, and that was just fine with Everton fans coming off a relegation dogfight. As long as points were going up on the board at a decent clip, a David Moyes still enjoying his honeymoon period was never likely to come under much pressure. Indeed, Everton outplayed most people's expectations to finish in 7th with 59 points, impressive considering they were on pace for only 43.

Through seven games: 8 points (2 won, 2 drawn, 3 lost)
Pace: 43 points
Final position: 17th (39 points)

However, the very next season illustrated how the start of the season is just that, a start. With 31 games to go anything can happen, and Everton showed that by going in the opposite direction from a year ago. The Toffees undershot their projection by 4 points, and in another year might have been relegated. Wayne Rooney was on his way out, so a good start to instill some confidence the next year was critical.


Through seven games: 16 points (5 won, 1 drawn, 1 lost)
Pace: 87 points
Final position: 4th (61 points)

And that's exactly what happened, as Everton catapulted out of the gate on their way to by far their best start under David Moyes. Of course, the superhuman pace of 87 points was never going to be matched, yet it could still be said that for the final 31 games Everton were a decidedly mediocre team. By notching 16 of a possible 18 points to start the campaign, the Blues essentially booked their ticket to the Champions League during that period.


Through seven games: 3 points (1 won, 0 drawn, 6 lost)
Pace: 16 points
Final position: 11th (50 points)

Then 2005 happened. Perhaps distracted by a dreadful draw against Villarreal in their first foray into the Champions League, Everton could not have been sitting in a more disastrous position through seven games. On pace for just 16 points, a fight to avoid the drop seemed like a certainty, but Everton turned things around in a huge way and after Christmas never really had to sweat out the possibility of relegation. In retrospect, this might actually have been one of Moyes's most impressive turnarounds.


Through seven games: 13 points (3 won, 4 drawn, 0 lost)
Pace: 71 points
Final position: 6th (58 points)

With new signing Andy Johnson in tow, a 3-0 demolition of Liverpool under their belts, and an undefeated start to the new season to boot, the blue half of Merseyside was flying high in 2006. While it ended up being a successful season overall with a return to Europe following the previous year's 11th place finish, inconsistency and Johnson's inability to maintain his early goalscoring form prevented something really special from happening.


Through seven games: 12 points (3 won, 3 drawn, 1 lost)
Pace: 65 points
Final position: 5th (65 points)

This was one of the few years that Everton didn't wildly overshoot or undershoot their projected finish through seven games, maintaining the exact same pace all season long. Another interesting nugget: this was the most points David Moyes has ever accumulated as Everton boss, a full four points more than in the Champions League season of 2004-2005. It just goes to show that sometimes the form of the other teams in the league in any given year can prove to be the razor-thin margin between the final places.


Through seven games: 8 points (2 won, 2 drawn, 3 lost)
Pace: 43 points
Final position: 5th (63 points)

This year began the recent trend of Moyes's teams starting off slowly, as Everton suffered a disappointing opening day defeat to Blackburn and looked sluggish throughout the early months of the season. However, with Marouane Fellaini brought in the Blues proved they still had a few cents left to spend and managed to finish in 5th for the second year running, again outdistancing the points total of 2005-2006.


Through seven games: 10 points (3 won, 1 drawn, 3 lost)
Pace: 54 points
Final position: 8th (61 points)

The 6-1 bloodbath versus Arsenal is what will stand out in most people's minds about the beginning of this campaign, but in reality Everton managed to find their form quite well once an unhappy Joleon Lescott had been jettisoned. Once more demonstrating the fickle nature of the Premier League, what was good enough for 4th five years ago (61 points) now only earned the Toffees an 8th place finish.


Through seven games: 6 points (1 won, 3 drawn, 3 lost)
Pace: 33 points
Final position: 7th (54 points)

With no summer investment forthcoming a dark gloom settled over Merseyside two years ago, as Everton posted their second worst points total ever through seven games. While Moyes's boys would turn things around eventually, the bad play in August and September set the stage for a season in which we knew we were playing for nothing but survival in the league.


Through seven games: 7 points (2 won, 1 drawn, 4 lost)
Pace: 38 points
Final position: 7th (56 points)

I don't think too much needs to be said about last year. The awful start is still fresh in the minds of Everton fans, but we also all know how Jelavic and Gibson and Pienaar arrived in January to save our season. If we had started out even moderately well, we might be playing in Europe right now.


Through seven games: 14 points (4 won, 2 drawn, 1 lost)
Pace: 76 points
Final position: ???

I think the conclusion we can draw from this analysis is that it is still far too early to tell where Everton are going to finish when the season reaches its conclusion. In the last ten years, through seven games David Moyes's teams have outdistanced their pace six times, missed their projected total three times, and maintained their pace once. Of course, much of that is a product of the fact that Everton usually starts slowly, so it makes sense that they would be likely to play better over the rest of the season.

If Everton want a spot in Europe (and especially if they want a spot in the Champions League), I think the key is going to be consistency. A good start certainly doesn't hurt as we've seen, but Everton are going to have to avoid the kind of stretches that began years like 2005-2006, 2010-2011, and 2011-2012, no matter where on the calendar they might crop up. The key to staying consistent is going to be scoring goals and registering points away from Goodison, and if Everton can do that I think they should have a great shot at getting to where they want to be when May rolls around.