Injury hit and out of form, Everton host Tottenham on Friday needing a victory to keep their fading European dreams alive.
Any hopes of a top four spot were all but killed off after Monday’s drab goalless draw at Brighton, with a place in the Europa League or even UEFA Conference League now at risk unless the Toffees can regain their stride.
It is now five games without a win in all competitions for Carlo Ancelotti’s side, with the team scoring just twice in that run.
Confidence seems to be draining away with each passing poor result, not helped by a crippling injury list.
The intense schedule this season means all clubs have had to deal with more injuries than normal but the Toffees’ woes have hit hard just at the wrong time.
With six defenders on the pitch and no midfield creativity to speak of, coming away from the Amex with a point and clean sheet is not the worst result in the world. However, the team showed little desire to really take charge of the game and make a concerted attempt to try and win it.
It felt as if the players were already eyeing their summer holidays, which with so much still to play should absolutely not be the case.
If we are being brutally honest Everton are about where they should be – eighth. The excellent start and usual nature of this season opened up an opportunity to gate-crash the top four (one that West Ham look to be taking), with those raised and then dashed expectations leading to understandable frustration.
Win on Friday and the opportunity is there for a final flourish. Lose and the feeling the campaign is simply drifting away from us will only increase.
If you were pick another side who frustrate their fanbase as much as Everton then it is probably Tottenham.
The north London side again find themselves on the brink of a mini-crisis, with their form on the slide, Champions League qualification hopes fading and the future of star Harry Kane now in question.
They still have the EFL Cup final to look forward to later this month of course, which is the chance to end the 13-year wait for a major trophy, but even victory over Manchester City at Wembley may not be enough to quell the discontent among the supporters.
Such drama always seems to follow Jose Mourinho around of course, is anyone really surprise that is had turned out like this?
The fans have unsurprisingly grown tired of Jose’s often negative style of play given the attacking players they have at their disposal, and especially compared to what they enjoyed under his predecessor Mauricio Pochettino.
But chairman Daniel Levy must have known what he was getting when he lured the Portuguese to north London 18 months ago.
He may well end the season with a trophy in the cabinet, but at what cost?
Everton 5-4 Tottenham (AET), February 10, 2021
One of the most ridiculous games I have ever witnessed. Both sides shared the lead during a topsy-turvy game that went to extra time, with Bernard’s sweetly struck volley sending the Toffees through.
Brighton (A) Drew 0-0
Crystal Palace (H) Drew 1-1
Man City (H – FA Cup) Lost 2-0
Burnley (H) Lost 2-1
Chelsea (A) Lost 2-0
Man Utd (H) Lost 3-1
Newcastle (A) Drew 2-2
Aston Villa (A) Won 2-0
Dinamo Zagreb (EL – Lost 3-0 AET)
Arsenal (A) Lost 2-1
Carlo Ancelotti has Allan, Andre Gomes, Josh King and Jordan Pickford available after their recent injuries.
The game has come too soon though for Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Fabian Delph, Yerry Mina and Bernard, who may be able to return for the trip to Arsenal
Abdoulaye Doucoure is still sidelined with a broken foot while the luckless Jean-Philippe Gbamin won’t play again this season because of a knee injury.
What they said
Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti:“We dropped some points in the past few games and absolutely have to get the result against Tottenham.
“It [the match] is vital but all eight games we have to play are vital, we have to play against teams fighting with us for that European position.
“To judge our season, we have to wait until the end.
“It could be a fantastic season if we are able to reach Europe.”
Tottenham boss Jose Mourinho: “I believe that’s the same since the beginning of the season.
“You look at them, their investment, their improvement in players, the top coach that they have, the ambitions that they’ve never hidden, that’s Everton, the same objectives, and of course in this kind of match it’s not just about the points you get, it’s about the points that your direct opponent doesn’t get, so a big match for them, a big match for us.”
Everton have already been Spurs twice this season so they have shown they are more than capable of matching Mourinho’s men. But with form on the wane and injuries beginning to bite, you just wonder how much gas they have left in the tank.