After what has been a miserable season so far, Everton have shown some defensive resurgence in their last three games with consecutive clean sheets, the first time in over a year. While the fact that club captain Phil Jagielka and John Stones have been reunited as the central pair will have a lot to do with the solidity in the back, backup goalie Joel Robles has seen his confidence rising and his performances between the sticks have gotten better as a result.
However, with first-choice 'keeper and US international Tim Howard soon to return from injury, manager Roberto Martinez has declared that the veteran will get is starting spot back when he is ready to play. This latest piece of mind-boggling narrative from Martinez is sure to cause consternation among the Toffees faithful as Robles has done enough to retain the gloves in the time Howard has been out.
Just for perspective, Howard had three clean sheets in the eighteen games until he went out with his injury, while Robles has had three clean sheets on the trot, out of six games started.
"I wouldn’t say one way or the other but he is very very close and Tim is the number one and then it’s just down to the competition from Joel and it’s great to see Joel performing the way he has done."
- Roberto Martinez
It looks like it'll come down to how Joel plays against Chelsea on Wednesday. If he keeps Everton in the game then surely there is no way Howard just waltzes back into the squad, especially considering that before his injury, the American goalkeeper had the lowest save percentage of any of the starting goalies.
The Blues next game after that is over a week away, when they return to Europa League action against Young Boys in Switzerland, and Everton's last chance at making something out of what has been a disaster of a season.
Click here to read what we thought would happen when Howard returns, written two weeks ago, and don't forget to vote below.