Three consecutive draws have not put Everton into a positive position going into the last seven matches of the season. In all fairness, the Blues should really have won the games against Crystal Palace and Tottenham, and deserved to lose at Brighton & Hove Albion, which would have gotten them six points, and three points more than their current haul.
Despite “the best we played at home this season”, according Carlo Anceotti, with quality games for Gylfi Sigurdsson and James Rodriguez, we were able to earn only a point against Spurs. Richarlison appeared toothless upfront by himself as a number nine, and between poor team offensive and defensive execution at moments, a win was not to be had once again. A third draw in the last three games keeps top six Premier League hopes alive in the technical sense for Don Carlo and the Toffees, but surely that hope must be ebbing away as the points continue to drop away with each draw.
While the path to Europe and a top six position for Everton has grown increasingly more difficult to navigate as points have continued to be dropped in matches that we absolutely cannot be losing with the ambitions this team possesses, there remains hope in part due to our schedule, and in part to the resilience this team has demonstrated this entire season. The club however, has left itself almost no room to falter as the competition now ramps up, while injuries and disappointing results continue to take their toll.
Everton limping at this stage of the Premier League campaign, but not without fight
There is no doubt that the Toffees are not playing up to the level that they have known during stretches of this season. Yet the club has consistently played down to competition all year too, even while reeling off proper performances in other games around those disappointing matches. All of this has come to a head at this point in the season, and has put the team in a further bind as injuries to players like Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Joshua King, Allan, Abdoulaye Doucoure, Jean-Philippe Gbamin and Yerry Mina have left the club shallow in depth and in experience when it is most desperately required.
It is difficult to argue that this could’ve all struck Everton at a less fortunate time. And while it is necessary to get DCL, and to a an equal extent Allan, back it will take the fullest efforts of everyone on the squad to overcome the injuries and nicks to key players, as well as the lackluster play that has seen us steadily lose top six ground. As we turn our attention forward, the Toffees must beat Arsenal; they have done it once this season already, yet to really have a shot at Europe and keep the Gunners off of their heels simultaneously, they will have to do so once again; they must finally break this streak of infernal draws.
Arsenal are an up and down type of team, with lots of talent, who just have yet to get it going at full bore this campaign. They can play well as has been seen against Slavia Prague and Sheffield United, or atrociously like against Liverpool, yet with this understood, the Toffees have no choice but to beat the Gunners should they truly wish to play in Europe next season; there is simply no other option in the matter.
Turning to the table before we move on to the rest off the schedule for the Blues, Tottenham continues to sit one point above Everton having played an additional match, while the Gunners sit three points behind the Toffees also having played an additional game thus far. While a victory this week against Tottenham couldn’t be achieved, Everton will remain in eighth place, looking up at the likes of Spurs, Liverpool, Chelsea, and West Ham United (who conveniently for the Blues lost this weekend).
Ancelotti had previously mentioned Everton needing five wins in the last nine games to make Europe - with seven games left, that number of wins hasn’t changed.
Pair of games against Villa the decider?
The two matches against Aston Villa that will follow the Arsenal game will be absolutely as critical as anything during the rest of this season in determining the place each club ends the season holding. While Villa sits in eleventh place currently, they are (currently) only five points behind Everton. Should they sweep the two games for whatever reason, the blow would be devastating for the Toffees and a tremendous boon for Villa. No longer would the Toffees have a game in hand on any of the other clubs, and they’d have dropped six points in just days at the least opportune moment of this current campaign; Aston Villa would receive a massive boost in the standings as well, potentially jumping Arsenal and Everton, while the entire middle of the table would appear different than it has for most of the season.
It is possible in that scenario, that far from the Blues ending the season in contention for a European competition next season, they could find themselves falling right out of the top half of the table, which would be an unmitigated disaster considering Everton were actually in contention for the Champions League for good parts of this campaign.
With the toughest remaining teams being against the West Ham United squad of David Moyes, as well as the soon-to-be-champions, Manchester City on the final matchday of the season, nothing can be guaranteed of course. Yet the two other games are against the already relegated Sheffield United and Wolves who have little to play for but pride.
Getting to more than sixty points needs to be the highest priority right now as that might still suffice to qualify for European competition, but with the Toffees currently on 49 points, that would mean at least four wins of those last seven games and likely even more needed.
This is simply the situation the team finds itself in, and both the coaching staff, as well as the personnel themselves, will have to resolve to figure a solution in regards to the teams recent offensive struggles; goals will be desperately needed in the coming weeks and without them, the club could find itself far below expectations by the time the season comes to a close.