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What Everton need to do to break into the top six

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Here’s a mathematical blueprint for the Blues to finally make it to that holy ‘half dozen’ grail

Everton FC v Arsenal FC - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

For Everton, a successful season would have to include finishing in the top six of the Premier League, displacing one of the ‘Sky Six’ stalwarts - Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur and Merseyside rivals Liverpool.

Over the last decade one or more of those six have fallen out of the top spots, but the Blues have only been in there twice - 5th in 2013-14, and 6th in 2014-15. And while sides like Leicester City completely shattered that top six aura to go on and win the league itself, the Toffees have somehow continued to stumble a step forward and slip two steps back since then.

However, with the leadership team of Marcel Brands and Marco Silva in place, Everton have a vision to build a strong, fast and young yet mature squad that will finally get the Blues into the top six and keep them there.

So what do the Blues need to do in the 2019-20 season to end the season in the top six? It’s quite simple really.

Everton points totals, last ten seasons

Let’s start by looking at what the Toffees have gotten for points totals over the last ten seasons, and compare them to the points totals for the different positions in the Premier League table.

The first thing that should jump out at you is that it on average it takes about 64 points to get into sixth place, and 68 to get into fifth.

For those last ten years, Everton are averaging about 56 points - quite clearly not enough to make it into the top six, and consistently good enough to make eighth place, which is where we’ve been the last two seasons.

Everton home and away points totals, last ten seasons

This next illustration shows the Blues’ mean and median point totals for the same time period, but there’s also some additional data in there - how many points has the team that has the sixth best record at home and away respectively picked up over the duration of the season.

Everton have averaged about 35 points in their home fixtures, while the sixth-placed team were getting about 37 points. Away from home, the Toffees have been quite awful, picking up about 21 points, while the team with the sixth-best away record has been getting 27 points. Where things get interesting is, if you add 37 and 27, you get 64 points.

Does that number sound familiar? It should, that’s the magic number that the team finishing in sixth place in the Premier League averages every season!

For the Blues to get to that 64 point mark, their current home form is almost adequate, and they just need to get about two more points over 19 fixtures to get there. It’s the away form where Silva needs to find a way to get better. He will need to find a way to pick up a whole six points - two losses turned into wins, six losses turned into draws, or some combination like that - to get to that 27 point mark and into the top six.

Everton against the top six, top half and bottom half, last ten seasons

* points collected against the top six sides mentioned previously
# points collected against teams in the top half of the table on day of the game
^ points collected against teams in the bottom half of the table on day of the game

This last figure shows that Everton have struggled to get points against the top six, with last season’s record about matching the mean of 11.5 points. While it’s difficult to pinpoint a definitive trend in top half vs bottom half points totals, what can be seen is that there is a loose ratio of about 2:3 in points - about 22.9 (against the top half) versus 33.5 points (against the bottom half).

Another neat ratio pops up as well, between results against the top six and the top half overall - 11.5 points to 22.9, which is about 1/2.

For arithmetic reasons, assuming Everton need to get 65 points to finish in sixth place, then that 2:3 ratio means they need to get 26 points against the top half of the top table, and 39 against the bottom half. Maintaining that 1/2 ratio, that would mean the Blues would need to pick up 13 of those 26 points against the ‘Sky Six’.

So there you go, it’s laid out pretty clearly what Everton need to do from a mathematical perspective - assuming the Blues will finish in sixth place, it’s looking like an 18-win, 11-draw, 9-loss season should get us to 65 points -

  • get 13 points from 12 games against the ‘traditional’ top six (three wins, four draws, five losses)
  • get 26 points from 18 games against teams in the top half of the table (seven wins, five draws, six losses)
  • get 39 points from 20 games against teams in the bottom half of the table (eleven wins, six draws, three losses)
  • get 38 points from 19 home games (eleven wins, five draws, three losses)
  • get 27 points from 19 away games (seven wins, six draws, six losses)

How do the Blues go about getting those 65 points? Well, that’s what Silva is getting paid to do, all we can do is tell him the breakdown of what he needs to get!