As I look at the Premier League table, I notice that ahead of their game against Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday, Everton are in sixth position, just three points off third-placed Chelsea. I then find myself asking: how can that be?
The chronic inconsistency of others is probably the answer, because it isn’t anything to do with what Everton themselves have been doing of late.
Yes, last week the Toffees grabbed a very good point in a 1-1 draw away at Manchester City, a side against whom they have a fine record.
But all that point did was extend their pretty dismal run in the league, where even if performances have been heralded (by some, anyway), points are not being picked up.
The draw with City means that David Moyes’ side have taken just ten points from their last nine league fixtures, which in anybody’s language is not a good return, and certainly not for side who are being talked up as potential Champions League qualification contenders.
I’ve written it before and I’ll write it again now – Everton are not genuine top-four candidates. It has taken until now for people to stop talking about their good start, which was indeed a fine one but seems to have hoodwinked some observers into thinking the Blues are better than they are.
Part of that was because Everton traditionally have a miserable start, so to beat Manchester United and Aston Villa in their first two fixtures was an excellent opening and made people get carried away.
Because since those matches, Everton have won just three of their 13 league games, as well as losing to Championship Leeds United in the Capital One Cup.
Is that Champions League form? Pull the other one. And it’s not like Everton have their usual injury crisis to point to, because they don’t.
At the moment, Phil Neville is the only absentee and the bigger problem is that Nikica Jelavic’s goals have dried up: the Croatian has just one in his last ten appearances for club and country.
Their performances have not been as good as they are cracked up to be either: for every game they should have won (Norwich, Newcastle) there have been games where they were lucky to get as much as they did (Sunderland, Liverpool) so it’s a redundant argument as far as I am concerned.
So am I backing them at evens to beat Tottenham? Well, what do you think? Under normal circumstances, I would much rather be on Spurs at 11/4, especially given that they have just won three Premier League games on the spin to gate-crash the top four, but I think the draw at 23/10 is the bet in this one.
I say under normal circumstances, because there are two things that are stopping me taking the price on Tottenham.
The first is Thursday night’s Europa League engagement with Panathinaikos, where Andre Villas-Boas picked a strong side that always, no matter how small, can have a detrimental effect on the Sunday performance.
But more important is the absence of Gareth Bale through injury. The Welshman might give Tom Daley a run for his money in the diving stakes but he is a wonderful footballer and Tottenham are just not the same team when he is not in the side.
And another factor is that Everton have actually only lost twice this year, but have drawn eight times, a divisional high, and they are not an easy side to beat on their own patch, even if only the bottom six have won fewer home matches.
They haven’t kept a clean sheet for 11 matches and I don’t see them beating a Tottenham side who have turned the corner.
But without Bale, I don’t fancy Spurs as much, so the 23/10 on Everton drawing a fourth match in a row is the play.