Woeful away form was a chief contributor behind Everton’s substandard 2014/15 season.
Only five teams lost more road games in the Premier League than the Toffees’ ten, while their 29 goals conceded was the joint sixth-worst tally in the division.
Judging by results this time around, though, Roberto Martinez has taken measures to amend their dreary travelling record and is reaping rewards as a result.
Their 3-2 win at West Brom was their third from six away days across all competitions and ensures they head into October unbeaten beyond the confines of Goodison Park.
Few envisaged this being the case when Baggies defender Craig Dawson nodded Tony Pulis’ side into a 2-0 lead last night, but Martinez’s aping of the Hawthorns’ chief’s favoured modus operandi enabled Everton to overturn the deficit.
Starting the game with a back four comprised entirely of centre-halves is archetypal Pulis, who has frequently deployed central defenders in full-back berths throughout his Premier League tenure.
This being the case, he will have regarded Everton’s team selection with a raging envy, as four centre-backs-by-trade were fielded in the visiting rearguard.
Martinez’s decision to do this was made more out of necessity than will, with rookie stoppers Brendan Galloway and Tyias Browning providing cover for stricken first-choice full-backs Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman.
Owing to a lack of alternatives, Pulis was compelled to pick long-serving winger Chris Brunt at left-back, as he has for most of the campaign, and his jealousy at the Toffees’ defensive riches was compounded when the visitors exploited this glaring weakness in the Baggies backline upon going two goals down to great success.
In addition to favouring four centre-backs, the Welshman remains a faithful proponent of formations containing two orthodox wingers; the dying breed of player who prefers to fling crosses into the box as opposed to getting on the scoresheet.
Spanish winger Gerard Deulofeu isn’t universally regarded as cast in the former mould, but his hugging of the right touchline and arcing balls onto the head of Romelu Lukaku from the 54th-minute onwards brought Everton two goals, forming the platform for their spectacular comeback.
Based on this, sticking to the Pulis playbook in future away games may well prove the decisive factor in the Toffees landing a 10/1-rated top-four finish this term.