There has been some disagreement among Everton supporters about what a realistic goal for the Toffees is, given the talent currently on the squad. More optimistic Evertonians (if such a thing exists!) have claimed that Roberto Martinez's side has the talent to be competing for Champions League places, but have been held back by the Spanish manager or some other factors.
Surely, the team is underperforming to an extent, but this weekend's match put those claims into perspective. The Toffees were completely outclassed by an Arsenal side headed to a third place finish, but was missing Aaron Ramsey, Petr Cech, Mathieu Flamini, Santi Cazorla, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Tomas Rosicky.
Struggling against such a depleted side seems to be a clear indication that while improved management may be needed, an improved talent level within the squad is necessary to make a serious run at the top four.
Fortunately, with investment in the side forthcoming from new owner Farhad Moshiri, new players can be brought in to improve the team over the summer.
But, at what position does Everton need the most investment? There is a realistic argument to be made for just about every position on the pitch, though the need in some areas may be more obvious than others. Below are brief outlines of the argument for bringing in new players at each position.
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With Tim Howard officially set to leave the club for the Colorado Rapids of MLS this summer, Everton's only goalkeeper with any senior experience will be Joel Robles. The 25-year-old Spaniard has been decent since taking over for Howard, but it is still unclear if he is prepared to be the team's top goalkeeper for years to come.
Even if management feels Robles is capable of becoming the team's long-term first-team goalkeeper, it may well be worthwhile to invest in an experienced backup goalkeeper, who can mentor and fill in for Joel as needed in the coming years.
Full-back has been a strength of Everton since Seamus Coleman first regularly broke into the first team in 2010-11, but this season has seen a partial drop-off at this position. Leighton Baines missed the beginning of the season with injury and has failed to secure a regular starting position ahead of Bryan Oviedo since his return.
Seamus Coleman has been in the lineup when healthy this season, but he has only one goal and three assists, in addition to the general issues that the Toffees have obviously had at the back this season. With the disappearance of Tony Hibbert, there has been next to no competition for Coleman at right-back, which may be a contributing factor to his decline.
Overall, full-back probably isn't the first position to come to mind when thinking about upgrading Everton's squad, but there is definitely a need for at least depth, if not a new starter.
Club captain Phil Jagielka looks sure to keep his spot in the starting lineup going forward, but everything else at center-back is still somewhat up in the air. Will John Stones be back next season? Will he be ready to start? Will Ramiro Funes Mori do well enough to maintain a starting position?
Depth at center-back exists with the youngsters Brendan Galloway and Tyias Browning in the squad, as well as Muhamed Besic who can fill in at the position. But, can Funes Mori and Stones play well enough to earn a regular starting spot, or does management need to invest in a new center-back to start regularly next to the skipper next season?
James McCarthy and Muhamed Besic represent the future of Everton at this position, but the pair's ineffectiveness over the weekend in the absence of the aging Gareth Barry may have cast some doubts over that future. Barry has been excellent this season, but he likely only has one or two good seasons left in him.
Throughout his time at Everton, McCarthy has been at his best when playing alongside Barry, but with his career reaching its conclusion, the Toffees need to decide if McCarthy is the go-to man going forward, and if Besic is the man to play alongside him. If either of those are in doubt, a new player or two may need to come in at defensive midfield.
Ross Barkley is the team's obvious No. 10 right now, but he has little competition for the position. His season has been an up-and-down affair (like much of the squad), and additional competition for the starting role could help improve his consistency.
Tom Cleverley, Arouna Kone, and Steven Naismith have combined for 19 starts at left midfield this season; if that isn't an indication of how desperately the Toffees need new players at wing, nothing is.
Aaron Lennon and Gerard Deulofeu together form a formidable pair of right wingers, but if Kevin Mirallas is not to be trusted to start regularly, there are no other obvious choices at left midfield. Steven Pienaar may well be leaving the club over the summer, and Cleverley and Kone are not true wingers.
Romelu Lukaku is the obvious top-choice striker for Everton, but depth at his position is still unclear. In his few appearances, Oumar Niasse has been mediocre, and Arouna Kone continues to be an enigma. As long as Lukaku is with the club and healthy, he will be the starter, but attacking depth is important for the club as well.