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Everton's Next Five Matches: Time to Build Momentum

A look at our next opponents leading up to the international break

Everton FC v Leeds United - Premier League Photo by Emma Simpson/Everton FC via Getty Images

The life of Evertonians is never easy. Our successes harken back to days that are fading into the far recesses of our minds and for our younger fans there have never been golden days. As an Evertonian who started watching games in the Gwladys Street End when the Holy Trinity were playing, I have grown resilient, but my grand optimism still is burning strong.

With two wins out of three games under Sean Dyche, there is a growing belief that Everton might have what is needed to claw their way out of the relegation zone. Evertonians may be spared the nerve-wracking end to the season that we experienced last year. The next five games will provide more evidence. Who are the opponents? How are they currently playing? Can Everton pick up points? Let's dig in.

With the 2-4 home defeat against Arsenal, Aston Villa are on a three-match losing run in the league, having tastes defeat in four of their last eight in Premier League action. Villa’s success lies in getting the first goal. When they get the lead they are able to keep that lead 62% of the time whereas when they go behind they equalize only 31% of the time.

The game is at Goodison and Villa’s away form is poor, having won only thrice in eleven attempts. Everton’s form at Goodison has been excellent since Dyche’s arrival with zero goals against. When the two teams met earlier in the season it was Villa who came out on top with a 2-1 victory. Villa came out strong and never really let go with Everton’s inability to finish chances.

The first 10 minutes will be critical for Everton. The fast start against Arsenal would be preferable over the grinding game that happened against Leeds. Amadou Onana looks like he will be in the side and with the supporters driving the team forward, a win is the most likely outcome.

Prediction: Everton 1-0 Aston Villa

The month of February was not a good one for Mikel Arteta and his Gunners. With the 2-4 away win at Aston Villa, Arsenal went back to winning ways after 3 winless matches in the league. The team has won 4 of their last 8 matches in Premier League. They have a season average of 1 goal per game but this has increased to 1.38 GA in these last 8 matches. With only 3 losses all season, Everton’s dramatic 1-0 victory stands alongside only Manchester City and United losses.

Arsenal are at home and they have only lost to the champions this season at the Emirates Stadium. This will be the most challenging game of the five and the question will be whether Everton’s defenders stand firm and keep the game close. At home, 65% of their goals conceded have been in the second half although they have scored 30% of their goals in the first 15 minutes of the second half.

The high pressing that was critical in the win at Goodison will be difficult to replicate. Our inability to counter attack at pace has been evident all season. The one area that has improved greatly under Dyche is our set pieces and the dominating work of our big men. The Grand Optimist says that we snatch a point late in the game. The realist says that Arsenal’s recent run will put pressure on them and a draw will be the result.

Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Everton

With the incredible 1-1 home draw against Manchester City, Nottingham Forest have continued to show progress which has been significant in the first two months of this year. With 3 wins, 3 draws and only 2 losses, the run has seen them move from the relegation zone with 13 points into 13th place on 25 points. Five of their six wins have come at The City Ground. It is also at home that they have scored 83% of their goals.

Everton needed a late goal from Demarai Gray to share the points when the two teams met at Goodison. Counter attacking is Forest’s greatest weapon and our defenders cannot be caught out like they were against Liverpool. The acquisition of Chris Wood has given Forest a proven target man and it will take a great effort to keep them off the score sheet.

If Forest’s good form continues up to this match I think that they will take all of the points. The City Ground will be rocking just like Goodison and it may be the factor that tips the scales in Forest’s favour.

Prediction: Forest 2-1 Everton

With the 1-1 home draw against Crystal Palace, Brentford have recorded their second consecutive draw, extending their unbeaten run to 11 matches in the league dating back to late October. They are on an incredible run and includes victories over Liverpool and Manchester United. They have accumulated 6 wins at home and only 2 on the road. They are definitely draw specialists with 11 draws recorded this season. Having only 4 losses this season it is interesting to note that 3 of those games have been lost by 3 or more goals.

The corresponding fixture last year was a game to forget with both Salomon Rondon and Jarad Branthwaite getting red cards in a 3-2 defeat. However, when the teams were at even strength in the FA Cup 4th round, Everton soundly defeated the Bees 4-1 with goals from Richarlison, Mina, Holgate and Townsend.

Once again, we are facing a team that defends well and has blistering pace on the counter attack. Ivan Toney has scored twice in the last three meetings and has racked up 15 goals this season. The next highest scorer is Bryan Mbuemo who has 5. Stop Toney and you stop Brentford. Adding pace to our defenders would go a long way to solving the counter attacking threat.

Prediction: Everton 1-1 Brentford

Things aren’t going well for Chelsea. They did go trophyless in the 2021/22 season but the campaign was far from a disappointment. The Blues finished third in the Premier League and reached two cup finals, only losing both on penalties. Since American Todd Boehly’s takeover of the club was confirmed on May 31, 2022, they have purchased 17 players for a staggering £553.95m.

Chelsea are currently languishing in 10th spot with only 31 points from 23 games. Since the turn of the year they have won only one game out of 10 and most recently lost to Southampton. In the last 11 games head to head, Chelsea have won 4, Everton have won 3 and there have been 4 draws.

So all of this makes us think that we should get a win. Remember I said I am the grand optimist. Remember I said that I have grown resilient. The other thing I have learned is that when we should take points we don’t.

Prediction: Chelsea 2-0 Everton

Five games and five points is my prediction.

For those who are interested in music here’s a great song by a Canadian singer/songwriter City and Colour. My son often says that I am the Grand Optimist!