Everton avoided relegation by the skin of their teeth last season, staying up after a 1-0 win over Bournemouth on the final day. Sean Dyche helped the club beat the drop and the hope in the summer was for a more settled campaign:
one without a relegation battle that allowed Everton to consolidate their place in the Premier League before they move to their new stadium next year. They could not have asked for a worse start.
Everton kicked off the season with a five-game winless run, succumbing to defeats against Fulham, Aston Villa, Wolves and Arsenal.
A surprise 3-1 win at Brentford in September offered a brief reprieve but their subsequent defeat to newly promoted Luton – still that club’s only win in the Premier League after 12 matches – suggested that Everton were in for another long season.
However, since that painful, worrying defeat at home to Luton, Everton have started to climb away from danger and up the table. Indeed, they have won three of their last five matches.
Their 3– win at Crystal Palace at the weekend lifted the club eight points clear of the relegation zone. And, given the way the three promoted sides are playing, Everton fans are unlikely to witness another relegation dogfight this season.
There is an argument to be made that Everton should be even higher than 14th in the table. They have been unfortunate this season, with poor finishing the root cause of their sub-par start.
It’s worth remembering that four of their six league defeats have been by a single goal – and they had more shots than their opponents in three of those four games. They have lost tight games and failed to score goals at the right times. Their goal difference is the same as Manchester United’s, yet Everton are 14th and United are sixth.
Everton have scored 14 goals in the league this season, the 12th best in the division, but they have taken 167 shots, the 10th best in the league. Their tally of 57 shots on target is the ninth best in the division – as many as Manchester United, who are eight places above them.
Everton do not have problems creating chances; their issue is putting them away.
They have missed 22 big chances this season, the fifth most in the Premier League, and their shot conversion rate of 8.4% ranks just 13th.