A brief patch of favourable form looks to be at end for Everton, who have reverted to the point-spilling ways that haunted them in the fledgling weeks of the season.
Their 1-1 draw with Hull last time out followed a 2-1 defeat against Tottenham at the weekend.
Both matches saw the Toffees surrender leads and their failure to capitalise on these promising positions means that, after 14 matches, they’re seven points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester United.
With the Red Devils scaling an upward curve as Arsenal, Spurs and Liverpool all show signs of improving too, the prospect of Roberto Martinez’s men landing a coveted top-four berth is increasingly unlikely, as odds of 14/1 about them doing so indicate.
However, the Champions League is not beyond the Blues this term, with victory in its distinctly less attractive sister competition we call the Europa League a plausible avenue to the hallowed ground upon which they yearn to tread.
Everton have experienced none of the frustrations that have dogged them domestically when lacing up for Thursday night action and with the Premier League promising to disappoint them once again, the Merseysiders would be better served focussing their attention on success in Europe.
At 16/1, there is no team currently participating in the competition at shorter odds than the Goodison Park club, whose supporters would undoubtedly accept a substandard league finish if a major trophy was trousered.
Finishing the season strongly and landing a top-six finish would be swell, but there’s a nominal amount of glory associated with doing so, while the Europa League is clearly regarded as a means to an end.
Their league form is undoubtedly suffering through playing Thursday then Sunday, so merely qualifying to be in the competition again through a high mid-table finish at the expense of winning a trophy must rank as an especially pointless act.
With three wins, two draws, ten goals scored and only two conceded, the Toffees are cruising on the continent and must now strive to ensure success in the tournament.