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Everton actually better off now than last season

Believe it or not, comparing the two seasons shows some surprising outcomes

Everton FC v West Ham United - Premier League Photo by Arfa Griffiths/West Ham United FC via Getty Images

A very popular narrative about Everton’s poor start to the season has been that the Blues have completely muffed a cake walk of an early schedule, and that with expected tougher games coming up, Marco Silva’s side have already given up any chance of a top six finish, and possibly even a top half finish.

With that in mind, we took a look at the Blues’ results this season, and compared them to the results the Blues had gotten last season against the same teams. The outcome will surprise you.

2019-20 season

Total - 14 points, (13GF, 18GA) sitting in 15th place in the table

Notes: Everton at this point have played two of the top six, both at home (Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur), but as of week 13 have picked up five points from games against teams ahead of them in the table, and nine from sides below them.

Now taking a look at last season’s results for the identical fixtures, with a couple of exceptions for relegated sides - replacing Sheffield with Cardiff City (best promoted side so far) and Aston Villa with Fulham (second best promoted side so far).

2018-19 season

  • Away at Crystal Palace - Draw, 0-0
  • Home vs Watford FC - Draw, 2-2
  • Away at Aston Villa Fulham - Loss, 0-2
  • Home vs Wolverhampton - Loss, 1-3
  • Away at AFC Bournemouth - Draw, 2-2
  • Home vs Sheffield United Cardiff City - Win, 1-0
  • Home vs Manchester City - Loss, 0-2
  • Away at Burnley - Win, 5-1
  • Home vs West Ham United - Loss, 1-3
  • Away at Brighton & Hove Albion - Loss, 0-1
  • Home vs Tottenham Hotspur - Loss, 2-6
  • Away at Southampton - Loss 1-2

Total - 9 points, (15GF, 24GA)

Notes: Of the nine points, only one point was gained in four games against sides ahead of the Blues in the table.
After matchweek 12 last season the Blues 19 points, good for ninth place (would have been fifth place this season)
Everton after twelve weeks last season had played three of the top six, all away (Arsenal, Manchester United, Chelsea).

So, looking at results against opponents only, the Toffees are actually better off than last season. Of course, the Blues also went on a run late last season sweeping teams aside and will need to get a similar hot streak going sooner than later if they are to provide a challenge to the top half.

Let’s provide some more context to that though. The first disclaimer has to be that with an exception or two, no two teams are the same, season to season. For every City that has been equally strong year-to-year, there is a Watford that is a flash in the pan one year and then gone the other. Looking at the opponents the Blues have played so far, there’s a good mix of teams that are about the same strength as last year, and some that have dropped in level.

While the end result is always the most important - points in the bag, position in the final table - some underlying metrics will tell you whether your points gained and table position are actually sustainable and ‘correct’ markers of where you really are as a team.

Last season, Everton finished in eighth place, overperforming both expected goals (xG) and expected goals against (xGA) metrics, and picked up 54 points, underperforming their expected points (xPTS) of 55.54 - per UnderStat, Leicester City should have actually finished ahead of the Blues too with their xPTS of 56.24

xG, xGA & xPTS stats as of Nov 11th, 2019, sorted by xPTS

This season, Everton are badly underperforming both xG and xGA - the Blues have basically been second unluckiest/incompetent on both sides of the pitch, scoring and conceding. The Toffees have scored 13 times against an xG of 17.76 (underperforming by 4.76 goals, second only to Watford), while conceding 18 times against an xGA of 13.09 (underperforming by 4.91 goals, second only to Southampton, likely because of their 9-0 walloping by Leicester).

Had those goals gone Everton’s way on either end of the pitch, we’d be sitting at 20.18 points and fifth in the table. Basically, everything that could go against Everton on either end of the pitch, has done so.

PL table as of Nov 11th, 2019
Premier League

It is not unrealistic to expect a correction as the season goes on, and also when you look at the Premier League table right now, there is an absolute clusterbleep going on. Three points separate fifth from fifteenth.. three points, one win. That’s it.

While it does appear that Everton’s upcoming schedule gets tougher, it does so for all the teams in the League as the winter part of the fixture list starts to play out and especially the holiday fixture congestion starts kicking in.

Silva ensuring that he maintains a good squad rotation plus the added squad depth and quality the Blues have this season will go a long way towards not falling into another slump like last season. What is paramount though is that the Toffees continue to maintain their level of play and create some separation from the chasing pack in the middle of the table.