Everton FanZoner Warren Doyle says there's plenty of reasons to be confident about what 2013 will bring.
Everton can build on a successful 2012
A new start to a new year always brings new hope and aspirations, along with reflection on what the previous year brought. Everton can look back on a pleasing 2012, with a fantastic home record and an established top 7 finish, as well as a very good end to the year.
The good start we all wanted finally came our way at the beginning of the 2012/13 season, and apart from some disappointing draws in games we should have won, we can be happy with the points tally at the end of 2012. The Christmas period saw the Blues add to that tally and get some fantastic wins over West Ham and Wigan. The 6 points gained could have been extended but for a loss to European Champions Chelsea, where Everton put in a fantastic display but just came up a bit short on the day.
Into 2013 then and we have seen the positivity from the previous year continue. A fantastic win was gained at Newcastle with two supreme goals scored. Leighton Baines, who has been in stunning form and a constant threat from left-back, hit a supreme free kick from 30 yards, almost bursting the net. This was followed by probably the most satisfying goal I have seen this season, when Victor Anichebe capped a wonderful team move with a goal. Although Newcastle are struggling at present, an away game in the North East is still a difficult place to get 3 points and Everton more than deserved theirs. The week was rounded off with a professional performance in the FA Cup at Cheltenham with Everton coming out 5-1 winners.
Personally, I'm really looking forward to the second half of this season. I've been very impressed by some of Everton's play. Some of the quality of football has been as good as anything the Premier League has had to offer this season and I am really optimistic about what could happen this year. If there is one negative though, it is that we cannot reciprocate this brand of football consistently, and for me that is due to not having the strength in depth that other sides have.
Last Saturday, we drew at home to Swansea, a side I have loved watching this season. They have done wonders again so far and in Michael Laudrup; they have an intelligent, forward thinking manager. Even though they were off the back of a fantastic win at Chelsea in the Capital One Cup, I strongly fancied Everton to win - only due to the Swans having a backlog of fixtures to look forward to.
It was Everton though who looked leggy and seemed to lack a cutting edge - maybe the Christmas fixtures had caught up with us a bit, who knows? The lack of depth though is a reason why I think we may just fall short of doing something incredible this season. I look back at the Chelsea game; I counted seven first team players who were out with injury, who probably would have started against the Londoners. The likes of Gibson, Fellaini, Hibbert, Mirallas and Captain Phil Neville all missed through injury or suspension and we simply cannot replace those players with ones of similar quality.
This is no disrespect to the players that came in and did a great job in their absence, but I look at Chelsea that day, who in the second half substituted Juan Mata for Oscar, essentially swapping one £20m player for another. Everton on the other hand could only field youngsters or free transfers. Whilst I am grateful to the likes of Thomas Hitzlsperger and Apostolos Vellios who come in and give it their all, I wish we had £20m players on our bench who could come on and make a difference.
Much has been said about Everton's first XI and that if we can stay injury free, we are as good as any side. Sadly, we simply cannot play our best side every game, and I feel this will cost us in the long run. I am proud of our efforts this season, I must say and apart from a few individual mistakes, we could have been a lot better placed in the Premier League. As I mentioned though, I am really looking forward to what the second half of the season holds. With the likes of Kevin Mirallas to come back, big things could still happen at Goodison, but the key is to keep these important players fit.
Here is too an enjoyable 2013 to all Blues, I'm sure that in some way it will be eventful for whatever reason, but personally I cannot wait to see what this year may hold.
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