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Everton look to end Goodison campaign on a high against Burnley

The Toffees still hold faint European hopes as they host Sean Dyche’s side

Everton v Burnley - Premier League Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Everton’s 2018-19 season is almost over (yeah, it has gone quick!) with their final home game of the campaign against Burnley on Friday.

The Blues still have hope of finishing seventh and securing a possible Europa League spot, though their chances are slim after last weekend’s draw at Palace.

That result combined with Wolves’ win at Watford means the Black Country side are four points clear of Everton in seventh, with Leicester one point ahead of the Toffees in eighth.

But despite the disappointment and frustration of last weekend’s stalemate at Selhurst Park, the philosophical reaction to it and relative lack of fume shows where Evertonians are right now.

The dramatic up-turn in form since February has fuelled genuine optimism for the future, particularly the manner of the victories over Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.

The game in south London didn’t really tell us anything we didn’t already know - namely the side lack a cutting edge in tight games. That isn’t a dig at Dominic Calvert-Lewin either, who once again led the line with his usual breathless determination. But it is clear that further attacking options are needed to supplement what we already have.

Crystal Palace v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

To be in with a shout of seventh place at all is remarkable given Everton’s desperate winter, with some supporters even fearing a relegation battle as late as early February.

The merits of qualifying continue to be debated, given it would mean the season starting in late July. As I have mentioned previously, Everton are kind of in a no-lose situation. Qualifying for Europe, for a team like Everton at least, is never a negative but on this occasion, given the state of the squad and size of rebuild required, missing out and giving Marco Silva and Marcel Brands a clear summer would not necessary be a bad thing either.

European qualification hopes aside, we all want to win on Friday to simply end the season on a high and maintain that feel-good factor into what is yet another critical summer.

The Opposition

While Everton’s season could be neatly diced into three parts, Burnley’s is most definitely a season of two halves.

The Clarets’ memorable 2017-18 campaign rewarded them with a Europa League qualifying spot, though they failed to reach the group stage after a play-off defeat to Olympiakos.

Those extra games seemed to take its toll as the Clarets began their domestic campaign poorly, losing four out of their five matches. By the time they were swept aside 5-1 by Everton on Boxing Day, they had lost 13 out 19 Premier League matches to slump to second bottom in the table.

Chelsea FC v Burnley FC - Premier League Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images

However, since the turn of the year, only Liverpool, Arsenal and the two Manchester clubs have picked up more points than Sean Dyche’s side, with Premier League survival secured with a draw at Chelsea two weeks ago.

Despite the club guaranteed to finish way below last season’s seventh place, this campaign will still be viewed as a success given they operate on a budget considerably lower than most of their rivals. A fourth successive top flight season - their best run since the early 1970s - is not to be sniffed at.

It is just the second time Everton have hosted a team outside the current top eight since the turn of the year after Bournemouth in early January.

Last season the Clarets came away from Goodison with a 1-0 victory, with the Toffees then in the midst of a Ronald Koeman/Steve Walsh spending spree inspired crisis.

Everton are in a much better place right now, but that alone will not be enough for victory against one of the league’s most disciplined and organised sides.

Team News

Marco Silva has confirmed that Yerry Mina and Theo Walcott are back in training and could play a part.

Mina hasn’t played since before the international break in March whilst Walcott has been suffering from illness.

Andre Gomes meanwhile serves the final game of his three-match ban, with Morgan Schneiderlin likely to keep his place.

Final Word

There has been plenty to take from this season - good and bad - but there is no doubt that tangible progress has been made. Friday is the chance to applaud the players for their efforts, whilst the team can put on a show to thank the supporters for following them all over the country despite a mixed bag of results.

Burnley’s fine form this year means they will be a tough nut to crack. But the fact they have little to play for may into Everton’s hands.

However, if this season has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected.