Everton recorded a comfortable win over Fulham at Goodison Park on Saturday to maintain their lofty Premier League position and keep on course for a record points tally under David Moyes. Indeed, the Toffees are only two points short of the tally that delivered Champions League football in 2005.
A solitary Steven Pienaar goal was enough to bring three points from a match that Everton dominated but never sealed. The South African’s goal came after a delight flowing move involving Leon Osman, Kevin Mirallas and Seamus Coleman, with Pienaar sweeping past Mark Schwarzer from 12 yards.
The goal was a rare thrill in a match that had all the hallmarks of an end-of-season fixture. Everton played some nice stuff at times and should have had more goals to show for it, while Fulham knocked the ball around nicely but barely threatened outside the last 10 minutes. There have been more testimonials played with more competitive spirit.
But it was yet another home win for Everton in a season that has been built on the team’s form at Goodison – only the top two have conceded as few or fewer goals, or won more league home games, and only Manchester City have lost as rarely in front of their own fans. The six home draws, the second-most of the top half, have cost Everton, but they’ve at least been hard to beat, a feature of the side that finished fourth eight years ago.
That team racked up 61 points from 38 games. Everton currently have 59 with three games still to play. It would be a major shock then if Everton don’t better that total, particularly with another home game to come, and bettering the highest-ever points total under Moyes – 65 – is feasible too.
It speaks to how competitive the top six has been this season, outside runaway league winners Manchester United, that Everton could pick up more points than they have at any point in the last decade or more, yet still end the season short of the top four. Last season saw Everton with 56 points, 13 adrift of the Champions League, so this year has been a marked improvement.
Breaking statistical records and narrowing the gap on the teams above is all well and good but Moyes, his players and the supporters would still want something tangible for their efforts. Plaudits mean less than prizes, certainly after a while. Everton were knocked out of the FA Cup in one of only two home defeats all season and it stings to this day. A record points tally is scant consolation, particularly if it doesn’t come with Europa League football at the very least.
Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur still have to play each other, so one of those sides will drop points, but if Everton are to climb into fifth they’ve got to go the rest of the season unbeaten. The Merseyside derby is next up, and Moyes has never won at Anfield. Doing so this year would not only get that hoodoo off his back, help set a new points record, but also push Everton closer to Europe.
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