With the second international break of the season now in our rearview mirror, Everton can get back to the business of breaking their streak of losses and return to winning ways.
The schedule as is currently holds nine games to play in the calendar year 2020. It’s one that started off with so much hope under then newly-appointed Carlo Ancelotti, fizzled out into nothing after a pandemic break, then started off the ‘21/22 campaign with so much promise again before checked by some woeful form.
Before the Premier League season started, we had known a brutal December lay ahead, and dropping nine points before going into the teeth of that challenge only means that Ancelotti and his charges will have to show more grit than they have done in some recent losses.
This weekend the Blues travel to newly-promoted Fulham, fresh from their one-season stay in the Championship. The Cottagers sit in seventh place with just one win this season, and will be looking to play spoilers against an Everton side that is looking a bit down-in-the-mouth.
Next will be a home clash against Leeds United, whose euphoria at being back in the Premier League has been pegged back a few notches with four points gained of the last fifteen as they sit in 15th place though that’s just three points behind Everton in 7th. Indeed, only five points separate positions five and fifteen this early in the season, but by the time we can finally turn to 2021 there’ll certainly be some separation there.
Two opponents from December who we’d have predicted would be hovering in mid-table are languishing at the bottom after lacklustre starts - Burnley and Sheffield United - are on the Toffees’ dance card, on the 5th and 26th respectively.
Free-scoring Chelsea will visit Goodison Park on December 12th, and then the Blues travel to Leicester City who may or may not still be top of the League when that clash comes around. The Toffees will then host Arsenal who have been continuing their up-and-down ways under Mikel Arteta before the United game just before Christmas.
2020 has been a pretty miserable year for most of humanity, and Everton will close out the annus horribilis with their biggest challenge of December - a visit from Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.
Remember what we were saying about a murderous December? Well, these next six weeks or so are not only going to teach us a lot about ourselves as we navigate this COVID hellscape around the world, they will also tell us whether this avatar of Everton under Ancelotti are real top six challengers, or once again equal and alternating parts sublime and hapless.