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Analysing and comparing Everton’s 2020-21 run-in

Do the Blues have an easier or harder end to the season than the teams around them?

Liverpool v Everton: Premier League
Will Everton be celebrating European qualification come the end of May?
Photo by Emma Simpson/Everton FC via Getty Images

For the first time since 2016-17, Everton enter the final heats of a season with something tangible still to play for.

The silverware dream may have died its inevitable death for another year at least, but European qualification certainly still remains on the cards for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

The Blues sit eighth currently, but have only played 28 games so far, the joint-fewest in the Premier League.

With just five points separating them from the Champions League and potentially just two from the Europa League, this season is far from over despite the recent lull for the men in blue prior to this international break.

So, who have they got left to play? And how does their run-in compare to their competitors?

Everton’s Final Ten 2020-21 Games

April 5 - Crystal Palace (H)

A fixture which, despite Everton’s notoriously wretched home record, they should feel fairly confident about.

Not only because Palace have not beaten Everton home or away since September 2014, and have lost on their last three trips to Goodison Park, but also because the Eagles sit in mid-table purgatory, and have little to play for for the rest of the season.

With 37 points, they won’t go down, nor are they likely to qualify for Europe. Perhaps, Sheffield United or West Brom aside, if you could hand-pick a next opponent for Everton to face, particularly at Goodison, it would be Roy Hodgson’s men.

April 12 - Brighton (A)

Another game Everton should lick their lips at, even if their record at the Amex Stadium isn’t nearly as good as their home run against Palace.

The Blues have lost two and drawn one of their three visits to the Seagulls since their 2017 promotion, but Brighton’s home record is even worse than Everton’s - they’ve won just two all season and only five last term, too.

And given Everton’s excellent away return this year, they should approach a trip to Graham Potter’s strugglers in buoyant mood.

April 17 - Tottenham (H)

A harder game on paper, but Jose Mourinho’s men have fluctuated between exhilarating and exasperating with little in-between this season. Ancelotti will hope to catch them on a bad day - again.

Indeed, Everton should take heart from the fact they’ve already beaten Spurs twice this season; first, with that stunning away performance on opening weekend, and then grinding out that 5-4 extra time win in the FA Cup last month.

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton - Premier League
Everton kicked off 2020-21 with a deserved 1-0 win at Tottenham
Photo by Alex Pantling/Getty Images

April 24 - Arsenal (A)

Like the Amex, the Emirates Stadium is another ground Everton have yet to register a win at, but they’ve had far more attempts to do so - 15, in fact.

But given the empty stadium, and that Mikel Arteta’s side are clearly in the embryonic stages of their development, Everton may never get a better chance to break that hoodoo than their visit next month.

Worth remembering, too, that Arsenal could have a Europa League semi-final first leg the following Thursday to prepare for.

May 1 - Aston Villa (H)

Like Palace, Villa look another side you’d fancy playing at the end of the season, given their Europe hopes have somewhat faded and they are already safe.

Everton may well have not yet played Dean Smith’s side this season when they visit Goodison on the first weekend in May - January’s reverse fixture at Villa Park, called off due to a COVID-19 outbreak at Villa, has yet to be re-arranged.

May 8 - West Ham (A)

One of Everton’s tougher remaining games, and one which has the feeling of a defining chapter in their European quest.

David Moyes’ West Ham won at Goodison on New Year’s Day, have the league’s second-best home record, and have undoubtedly been the most-improved side in the top-flight, currently sitting fifth.

They may hardly be world-beaters, but even with Everton’s stellar record, they may have to really go some to leave the London Stadium with three points.

May 11 - Sheffield United (H)

You’d expect the managerless Blades’ relegation to have been confirmed by the time they visit Goodison in May.

They stunned a feeble Everton to claim a 2-0 win in L4 last season, but lost both Bramall Lane meetings between the sides since then, and if Ancelotti’s men are to be taken seriously, this simply has to be a win.

May 15 - Wolves (H)

Everton round off an underwhelming Goodison campaign with the visit of Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves, another team who look destined for mid-table mediocrity this year.

Ancelotti will want a league double over a side they edged past at Molineux in January, and will be keen to avoid the limp ending which scuppered any lingering European ambitions for Everton last season.

Plus, there could be 10,000 Evertonians inside Goodison for this one, and after we saw the lift that 2,000 gave the side in December’s home wins over Chelsea and Arsenal, what a difference that should make if it happens.

Wolverhampton Wanderers v Everton - Premier League
Everton won 2-1 at Wolves in January
Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

May 23 - Manchester City (A)

Saving the worst till last, the hardest fixture left for Everton by a mile no doubt comes on the final day, when they face a City side who, barring a dramatic capitulation, will be champions again by then.

Though, who’s to say that the game being at the Etihad Stadium may not work in Everton’s favour, given their superior form on the road?

Added to the fact City’s players may have one eye on a Champions League final the following weekend... OK, I’m clutching at straws, but there may well be worse times to face them in their own back yard.

TBC - Aston Villa (A)

And of course, as mentioned, that Villa away game is still yet to be given a new date, but will definitely at least be pencilled in before the closer at City.


How does Everton’s run-in compare with their rivals?

So, that’s how Everton’s 2020-21 season finishes off. But do they have it harder or easier, on average, than the sides they’re competing with?

They have a game extra than all of them, for starters, but here’s how Everton’s run-in compares with all the teams above them (bar Man City):

Average Position of Remaining Opponents - 2nd to 8th

Team Man Utd (2nd, P29 Pts 57) Position Leicester (3rd, P29 Pts 56) Position Chelsea (4th, P29 Pts 51) Position West Ham (5th, P29 Pts 49) Position Tottenham (6th, P29 Pts 48) Position Liverpool (7th, P29 Pts 46) Position Everton (8th, P28 Pts 46) Position
Team Man Utd (2nd, P29 Pts 57) Position Leicester (3rd, P29 Pts 56) Position Chelsea (4th, P29 Pts 51) Position West Ham (5th, P29 Pts 49) Position Tottenham (6th, P29 Pts 48) Position Liverpool (7th, P29 Pts 46) Position Everton (8th, P28 Pts 46) Position
Fixture List Brighton H 16 Man City H 1 West Brom H 19 Wolves A 13 Newcastle A 17 Arsenal A 9 Crystal Palace H 12
Tottenham A 6 West Ham A 5 Crystal Palace A 12 Leicester H 3 Man Utd H 2 Aston Villa H 10 Brighton A 16
Burnley H 15 West Brom H 19 Brighton H 16 Newcastle A 17 Everton A 8 Leeds A 11 Tottenham H 6
Leeds A 11 Crystal Palace H 12 West Ham A 5 Chelsea H 4 Sheff Utd H 20 Newcastle H 17 Arsenal A 9
Liverpool H 7 Southampton A 14 Fulham H 18 Burnley A 15 Leeds A 11 Man Utd A 2 Aston Villa H 10
Aston Villa A 10 Newcastle H 17 Man City A 1 Everton H 8 Wolves H 13 Southampton H 14 West Ham A 5
Leicester H 3 Man Utd A 2 Arsenal H 8 Brighton A 16 Aston Villa H 10 West Brom A 19 Sheff Utd H 20
Fulham H 18 Chelsea A 4 Leicester H 3 West Brom A 19 Leicester A 3 Burnley A 15 Wolves H 13
Wolves A 13 Tottenham H 6 Aston Villa A 10 Southampton H 14 Southampton A 14 Crystal Palace H 12 Man City A 1
Aston Villa A 10
Average Position of Opponents 11 9 10 12 11 12 10

As it happens, much of the European hopefuls have similarly tough ends to the season. The average league position of Everton and Chelsea’s opponents is tenth, while Leicester have marginally the hardest run-in (average position of ninth) and Liverpool and West Ham the joint-easiest (12th).

On paper, though, remember. And give this has been a season which has seen all manner of crazy results (Everton winning at Anfield, no less), perhaps making this table was utterly futile. I’ll leave that for you to decide.

What about how these teams all fared in the reverse fixtures against the sides they are still to play?

Number of Points Won in Reverse Fixtures

Team Man Utd (2nd, P29 Pts 57) Reverse Fixture Leicester (3rd, P29 Pts 56) Reverse Fixture Chelsea (4th, P29 Pts 51) Reverse Fixture West Ham (5th, P29 Pts 49) Reverse Fixture Tottenham (6th, P29 Pts 48) Reverse Fixture Liverpool (7th, P29 Pts 46) Reverse Fixture Everton (8th, P28 Pts 46) Reverse Fixture
Team Man Utd (2nd, P29 Pts 57) Reverse Fixture Leicester (3rd, P29 Pts 56) Reverse Fixture Chelsea (4th, P29 Pts 51) Reverse Fixture West Ham (5th, P29 Pts 49) Reverse Fixture Tottenham (6th, P29 Pts 48) Reverse Fixture Liverpool (7th, P29 Pts 46) Reverse Fixture Everton (8th, P28 Pts 46) Reverse Fixture
Fixture List Brighton H W Man City H W West Brom H D Wolves A W Newcastle A D Arsenal A W Crystal Palace H W
Tottenham A L West Ham A L Crystal Palace A W Leicester H W Man Utd H W Aston Villa H L Brighton A W
Burnley H W West Brom H W Brighton H W Newcastle A L Everton A L Leeds A W Tottenham H W
Leeds A W Crystal Palace H D West Ham A W Chelsea H L Sheff Utd H W Newcastle H D Arsenal A W
Liverpool H D Southampton A W Fulham H W Burnley A W Leeds A W Man Utd A D Aston Villa H N/A
Aston Villa A W Newcastle H W Man City A L Everton H W Wolves H D Southampton H L West Ham A L
Leicester H D Man Utd A D Arsenal H L Brighton A D Aston Villa H W West Brom A D Sheff Utd H W
Fulham H W Chelsea A W Leicester H L West Brom A W Leicester A L Burnley A L Wolves H W
Wolves A W Tottenham H W Aston Villa A D Southampton H D Southampton A W Crystal Palace H W Man City A L
Aston Villa A N/A
Number of Points Won in Reverse Fixtures 20 20 14 17 17 12 18

That we have empty stadiums this season perhaps means we can read a little more into this than usual, given how home advantage has inevitably been eroded.

And despite two of Everton’s remaining games being against the same team (Villa), meaning they have played one fewer ‘reverse fixture’ than all the other listed sides, only Man Utd and Leicester earned more points in their corresponding clashes (20) than Ancelotti’s men’s 18.

Certainly, there’s plenty there for Everton to draw confidence from then. Win the first of the two Villa meetings and that will go up to a table-topping 21, too.

And finally, in a compressed, breathless season, where fatigue has played a bigger factor than usual, how busy is everyone’s schedules between now and the end of May?

Maximum and Minimum Number of Games Left to Play

Team Competitions Still Involved In Max No. of Games Left Min No. of Games Left
Team Competitions Still Involved In Max No. of Games Left Min No. of Games Left
Man Utd (2nd, P29 Pts 57) PL, Europa League 14 11
Leicester (3rd, P29 Pts 56) PL, FA Cup 11 10
Chelsea (4th, P29 Pts 51) PL, Champions League, FA Cup 16 12
West Ham (5th, P29 Pts 49) PL 9 9
Tottenham (6th, P29 Pts 48) PL, Carabao Cup 10 10
Liverpool (7th, P29 Pts 46) PL, Champions League 14 11
Everton (8th, P28 Pts 46) PL 10 10

Indeed, Everton and West Ham are the only sides between second and eighth to be fighting on just one front now - the Premier League.

Despite Ancelotti’s injury list seemingly perpetually growing, this could prove advantageous, given Man Utd, Chelsea and Liverpool could all play at least four more games during the remainder of the season than Everton.

That Everton should only have two weeks between now and May 23 with more than one game should also prove beneficial. A hectic winter schedule clearly took its toll on a beleaguered, threadbare side and having more time than most to rest, recuperate and train could be their secret weapon.

In short, while it’s easy as an Evertonian to expect disappointment (God knows we’re used to it by now), European qualification is far from off the cards at this stage.

Their fixture list is relatively kind, they’ve already beaten most of the teams they’re still to play this season, and they’ll have more space between matches than much of the others in the running.

When they next take to the field on April 5 against Palace, though, it’s time to put March’s disappointments behind them and start snowballing momentum as the campaign reaches its critical, defining stage.