Everton’s 3-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea on Saturday evening, the Toffees’ third defeat in as many games, was the third loss against a team that Everton remained unbeaten against in last season’s Premier League. Having lost to Manchester City and Liverpool in past weeks, the defeat to Andres Villas-Boas’ side means Everton have failed to take a point from the trio after taking seven from the same fixtures a year ago.
Comparing like-for-like results always comes with a caveat or two, in this case that Everton did not play City, Liverpool and Chelsea consecutively in 2010-11, while Jack Rodwell’s erroneous red card in the Merseyside derby is another mitigating factor. The fact remains, however, that from those three fixtures Everton have suffered a drop of seven points on last season that will have to be made up elsewhere if the Toffees hope to challenge for the Europa League again. It is a pattern that repeats itself when the rest of Everton’s opening league fixtures are looked at in the same way.
From home games against the newly-promoted Championship champions (Queens Park Rangers this year, Newcastle United last year), Aston Villa, Wigan Athletic and Liverpool, and away games against Blackburn Rovers, Manchester City and Chelsea, Everton have taken seven points, scored eight goals and conceded 11, when in 2010-11 the same fixtures produced nine points, seven goals for and six against. In every area but goals for Everton have performed demonstrably worse, and while that may not speak to the quality of the team’s performance or the events of the game, at the end of the season those variables matter less than the totals for goals for and against and the most important number, points.
One of the biggest criticisms of Everton last year was a failure to beat teams beneath them in the league, often slipping up against relegation contenders despite taking points from the title challengers. In this respect Everton are performing slightly better. A 0-0 draw was the outcome of Wigan’s visit to Goodison Park last season while this season the Latics were dispatched 3-1, while, however fortuitously, Everton beat Blackburn at Ewood Park this season having lost there on last season’s opening day. The extra points are lost, however, by the poorer results against the top teams.
It may be too early to offer a revised prediction for Everton’s final league placing or too small a sample size to use the seven results so far to project the Toffees’ final points tally, but the seven points this season is 77% of last season’s nine against the same opposition. If that ratio were to continue through the season and Everton took only 77% of the 54 points they earned last season, their final total this season would be a lowly 41, barely above the mythical 40-point barrier and enough to finish just 16th in last season’s table. It is a telling sign, however, of just how poor Everton’s form has been, and how much work David Moyes has to do to even match last season’s performance.
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