Europe on the horizon for Everton

rss logoWednesday 27th November 2013 19:38

Romelu Lukaku: Instrumental in derby draw

Romelu Lukaku: Instrumental in derby draw

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Warren Doyle is full of praise for Everton after a thrilling Merseyside derby, and believes they are now in contention for the European spots.

Have we all calmed down now? If the build-up and the match itself didn't have enough drama, the aftermath of the latest Merseyside derby has gone into overdrive. As you can imagine, the debate in and around the city has carried on, and no doubt will continue until the next derby in January.

I'm going to resist the temptation to over-analyse the main talking points of the game other than to say; Kevin Mirallas should have been sent off. The game itself has been regarded as a Merseyside classic and it truly was an outstanding match. From an Evertonian point of view, although I was disappointed not taking three points from being 3-2 up, I am delighted with a number of things.

Firstly, it is accurate to say that in recent derbies, Everton seemed to have a mentality that they were inferior to Liverpool and that was reflected in the results between the two over the last 10 years or so. On the basis of this match, there was no such fear on Everton's part. The team insisted on trying to do the right things and attack Liverpool.

Secondly, when the iconic Leighton Baines limped off as a substitute for what we now know is a fractured toe. In previous years the norm would have seen a more defensive minded substitution. Also the sight of Baines hobbling off would have spelt doom for Everton fans - no such feeling now.

Whilst Baines will be a huge miss for a month, our play recently has not totally gone through our left hand side and we can look to others in the team to chip in and give us that creativity Baines gives us. Roberto Martinez opted for the youthful, skillful and attack-minded Gerard Deulofeu. The Toffees boss stuck to his principles and deployed the on-loan Barcelona man in order to preserve Everton's attacking mentality. It proved to be a brilliant tactical decision and, throughout the second half, the Blues' threat on Liverpool's back line remained constant.

As we know, the game finished in a thrilling 3-3 draw and as we progress through the season with the busy Christmas period on the horizon, Martinez will be aware of how vital the league games coming up are. Tough trips to the Champions Manchester United and then to early pacesetters Arsenal will certainly provide the stiffest challenge so far.

Martinez has spoken this week of reaching a record total of 70 points by the end of the season. Whilst this would be difficult to achieve, it is pleasing once again to hear the manager speak positively about his team and about his aims for the club. Now that we have the first part of the season out of the way and we can look back on an impressive start, we as Evertonians should be asking: why can't we be involved in the shake up for European places in the coming months?

The squad looks great and if the second half performance from the game against Liverpool is any indication, Everton can look forward to having much more success as the season continues. Of course, a few defensive mistakes cost Everton the win against Liverpool, but I'm sure those in the club are not too concerned about this. Everton can point to three consecutive clean sheets in the previous three games before Liverpool for evidence of solid defensive performances.

If the derby taught us anything, it's that this new look Everton side can hurt teams, no matter who they are. Of course we are not going to be challenging the likes of Chelsea, Man City or Arsenal, but with Tottenham struggling off the back of their heavy 6-0 defeat to City and with Liverpool proving that they are not any better than us, Everton will and should be aiming to deliver a high Premier League finish.

December and the Christmas period will, as ever, provide a true insight of how the rest of the season pans out but one thing I know is that this Everton side will have a go and will try to win games. Whether we can or not is another story.

Nil Satis Nisi Optimum

You can follow Warren on Twitter at @WD1878 - and don't forget to follow @FanZone too for links to all the latest blogs.

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