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Everton 2014/15 Schedule Analysis

The Blues face a tough start in the Premier League, and must contend with European fixtures too

Dave Thompson

There is only so much that can be read into a football club's schedule. After all, every team will play every other team home and away at some point, in the league at least. But with Everton back in Europe this season for the first time since 2010, the Toffees' fixture list is markedly more crowded than it was last time out.

From September to December, Roberto Martinez's side will have to contend with six additional Thursday night fixtures as they get their Europa League campaign underway. European football in itself will be a new challenge for much of the squad, but the additional games, coupled with the quick turnaround for weekend Premier League fixtures, will surely test the Everton squad in the first months of the season.

Indeed, Everton's early fixtures appear difficult enough even without the added commitment of Europa League football. After the opening day trip to Leicester City, the Blues face Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester United in their next six league games, with the first Merseyside derby of the season taking place at Anfield on 27 September.

The next couple of months are thankfully kinder, with an away trip to Tottenham Hotspur at the end of November the only standout fixture, although a run in the League Cup could potentially throw up some interesting matches going into December. Stoke City are the guests at Goodison for the Boxing Day match, while Everton travel to Hull on New Year's Day at the end of an extremely busy holiday schedule.

Looking beyond the festive period, February presents a particularly formidable set of fixtures. In just over three weeks, Everton could have to face Liverpool, Chelsea, Leicester and Arsenal, as well as having to contend with an FA Cup fifth round match, and a two-legged Europa League round of 32 tie. A couple of those games would almost certainly be moved back by a day or two, but the Blues could still find themselves facing a run of eight important matches in 22 days.

Fortunately however, and in contrast to last season, Everton have a relatively easy run in towards the end of the campaign. From March onwards, only Manchester United's visit to Goodison in late April stands out as worrying, though before Evertonians get too excited, they would be wise to heed the old Premier League cliché: there are no easy games at this level.

Much of the Toffees' late season schedule will be defined by their progression in Europe and in the FA Cup, but regardless of whether they make the final of either competition, the final day Premier League showdown at home to Spurs should make for interesting viewing. Who knows, there could be a Champions League spot at stake.