Everton needed to win against Manchester United over the last weekend. I said as much prior to the match and yet, the draw that we were able to come away with was as positive as any draw one might imagine. And while demonstrating that we can play with the Red Devils was accomplished, three points were not taken away from Old Trafford, and so massive matches loom across the next four days, and three across the next seven, all on Merseyside at Goodison Park, there is even more weight on the Toffees to bounce back from the emotion filled draw of just days ago.
The Royal Blue will play three matches against Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham and Manchester City respectively, and it is hard to deny that the road is difficult for the club, but it will not be impossible. Thanks to our players, our coaches and ambition, it can be done, if only one match, one day, one moment at a time.
While Fulham on the weekend is the next chance Everton has to take three points in the Premier League, the FA Cup fifth round match against Tottenham has a great deal of significance as well. A win pushes the Blues a step closer to claiming a piece of silverware for the first time in nearly thirty years, while also lifting them into the Europa League automatically. In just four days, more questions will have been answered by Everton, while still further questions will be created by whatever outcome can be found across the two matches; to be sure, the Sky Blue of City will be the toughest of all questions of the season.
Tottenham without Harry Kane just isn’t the Same: An FA Cup Date
Tottenham were once the class of the Premier League at an earlier point in the season. As it stands since Harry Kane has been away on injury however, they have slipped behind Everton, currently sitting eighth on the table. For Everton, who were able to find success against the club earlier this season when the vaunted English striker was available, his return to the side will make things challenging but not impossible.
Everton will also have to stop names like Lucas Moura, Gareth Bale and Heung Min Son, and while none of those names are that of Kane, they are all formidable and more than adequate to score in bunches. Mason Holgate, Ben Godfrey, Lucas Digne and Michael Keane will have to be up to the challenge against them all the same, and one slip up could mean disaster for Robin Olsen. With this all understood, Tottenham haven’t looked the same in recent weeks and Everton meanwhile, have a real chance to put the pedal to the metal so to speak.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin remains the focal point of offensive chances with his excellent form this season, yet others are showing ambition and ability. Abdoulaye Doucoure has continued to play wonderful football, bagging a goal and an assist against Manchester United. James Rodriguez demonstrated in that same game that even during difficult days, he only requires a moment to impact the match in an entirely brilliant and unique manner. Alex Iwobi has not always been the Alex Iwobi Toffee fans expected when they acquired his services from Arsenal two summers ago, and whether he starts or comes in, his sharpness makes us a different outfit.
The same can be said regarding the new fellow, Joshua King. The energy that he brought on the left side, the pace and the ambition was noticeable upon his appearance on the pitch. While he will be a useful piece to bring on in the second half of competitive and non competitive matches alike, I do believe we will see him starting soon alongside DCL and the currently struggling Richarlison. The ability of King, as well as the form of players like Doucoure, Rodriguez, Iwobi and Digne to name but a few, will hopefully take some of the pressure off of the remarkably talented and able Brazilian after tonight - King is cup-tied and can't play against Spurs.
We are lucky under Don Carlo Ancelotti and Big Duncan Ferguson, to have a club that can put up offensive numbers with a struggling superstar, for not all can as Arsenal is current proof of. But when Richarlison does find his form, the club will be nearly unstoppable offensively speaking; should Tottenham have to incur a dominant Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, it might certainly be a long day for the north London outfit. Ultimately, I predict that Everton will hold up defensively against an out of sync offense, while two to three goals should be expected against Spurs.
A date with Fulham must be Three Points, but not for the same reasons as last weeks United match
Should the Toffees move onto the next round of the FA Cup, with a win against a tough opponent, supporters will obviously be happy, yet none can tarry on the outcome whatever. A date with Fulham on the weekend is a chance to take three points and move higher up the table, separating from the teams who sit beside us for little other reason than that they have played two more matches than we currently have.
While no match is guaranteed in the Premier League, Everton should be able to handle Fulham on Sunday. If they’re able to take two straight wins across all competitions into their next match against Manchester City, the current best team in England however, it may be the best situation for the Toffees to possibly take at least a point away from the champs, once removed of course.
With Fulham in the relegation zone currently, 18th position to be precise, the club and its players will be scrapping hard and Everton have sometimes struggled in those matches. Newcastle for example, has proven to be our bogeyman this campaign; Fulham must not surprise us as we are happy regarding Tottenham, and wary regarding City. In other words, the middle match is a classic trap game. It would not be the first trap we fell into, but we must do our best to avoid this familiar fate; it would absolutely wreck the positive progress captured from the previous United draw.
City on Merseyside: A Test like No Other
Everton would do well to come in with all of the ambition and momentum possible, because even hosting Manchester City somehow feels like a disadvantage on occasion. They are incredibly well coached, incredibly deep, incredibly instinctive and intelligent, and they are now beginning to run away with the Premier League in a season which has seen greater parity than in recent memory.
While I am always one to shoot for a victory, even taking a single point would be a victory against such an advanced unit. They are where Everton are looking to get to and with time and patience, it is certainly possible, but slaying the dragon is a part of that journey in so many words. The best must be gone through in order to reach that pinnacle oneself. Should the club be able to wrestle at least four points and an FA Cup win from the week, it will be a massively successful run leading into the Merseyside derby, and one that our players should feel pride from weathering.
A week from today, Everton will have that opportunity, after having played two prior games in the week, and how they enter that match will likely help to determine the shape and complexion of that endeavor. As Everton continues to compete and challenge the best clubs of England, stretches like this are when supporters see the true mettle of the club in its evolution, and positive results in this weeks stretch will prove to everyone that the Toffees are no straw man, but a club to be taken seriously from this point forward.