Losses were surprisingly infrequent for Everton this season, with only ten losses in 44 matches in all competitions. But, with a Champions League spot and FA Cup title well within sight, any losses suffered were always going to be massive in scope. With that in mind, we'll take a look at the five most painful losses of Everton's season.
Let's have your comments below about these five losses, and any others that you think had a major impact on Everton's season.
5. Away at Chelsea 1-0, February 22, 2014
A 1-0 loss at Stamford Bridge to Chelsea under Jose Mourinho is far from a bad result, but the late nature of the loss left a bad taste in the mouths of the players and supporters, particularly after a similar loss at Tottenham two weeks prior. The goal, originally credited to John Terry, ultimately was awarded to Frank Lampard off a late free kick that Tim Howard likely should have done better to claim.
The Toffees certainly deserved a better result from this match, particularly after Lacina Traore had to be left out of the lineup when he picked up an injury during training. Still, this loss hurt the team a lot less than the other four on the list.
4. Home against Sunderland 0-1, December 26, 2013
Everton entered Boxing Day at the end of a spectacular December, having won at Old Trafford, drawn at Arsenal, and earned three points against both Fulham and Swansea. Given that the Toffees had not lost a home match in the entire calendar year, the match against bottom of the table Sunderland seemed like a sure thing.
But when a miscommunication between Tim Howard and Leon Osman led to a Ki Sung-yueng breakaway, and Howard received a red card for a mistimed challenge, the match became anything but a sure thing. Ki converted the ensuing penalty, and put the Black Cats in the lead. Though 10-man Everton was certainly the better side in the match's remaining 65 minutes, they couldn't manage an equalizer.
The manner in which this match was lost was difficult to get angry about. Osman and Howard were both culpable for the goal and red card, but both players are long-tenured servants for the club, and make such mistakes rarely. Additionally, the team's performance following the sending off was valiant. But at the end of the day, dropping three points at home to the bottom team in the league is unacceptable. These kinds of losses are the the ones that really hurt top four chases.
3. Home against Crystal Palace 2-3, April 16, 2014
The Toffees couldn't have run into Crystal Palace at a worse time. Palace entered this match on a three match winning streak, having pushed themselves firmly out of the relegation battle. When Jason Puncheon struck first in the 23rd minute, it was plain to see that Everton were in for a big battle against Tony Pulis' side. Scott Dann made it 2-0 to Palace in the 49th minute, and when Cameron Jerome doubled the lead again in the 73rd minute, making it 3-1, the match was all but over.
That Jerome goal was the last nail in the coffin to any realistic chance Everton had to make the Champions League.
2. Away at Liverpool 4-0, January 28, 2014
Most of these losses were tough to swallow because they ultimately hurt the team's chances of reaching some goal, but this loss would have hurt just as much in any season. Everton started the extremely experimental backline of John Stones, Leighton Baines, Phil Jagielka, and Antolin Alcaraz, and the goal-happy Reds lit up the Toffees.
Derby losses are tough. Unfortunately we've had a lot of experience with this painful fact in recent years, but the nature of the loss combined with how strong the team's season had been up to that point made it perhaps the most disappointing league derby in recent memory.
1. Away at Arsenal, 4-1, March 8, 2014 (FA Cup)
The scoreline was somewhat unfair to Everton on this day, with Olivier Giroud tacking on two late goals as Everton pushed for an equalizer, but there is no doubt that the better team on the day won.
A loss at the Emirates isn't particularly disappointing in and of itself, but a victory would have put the Toffees through to the FA Cup semi-finals, along with Wigan Athletic, Hull City, and Sheffield United. There is no doubt a victory would have made Everton the favorites to win the FA Cup.