The demands of reaching the last 16 of the Europa League will have been blamed by some for Everton’s below-expectation finish in the most recent Premier League campaign.
Having finished fifth in the previous season to confirm their place in Europe, Roberto Martinez’ men huffed and puffed their way to 11th last term, largely on account of losing over half of their away fixtures.
However, with no European football in the forthcoming campaign, many will be expecting Everton to climb the table again. This is backed up by bwin’s price of 3/10 for the Toffees to finish in the Premier League top half.
Yet of all of the teams in this particular market, there are reasons to belief that Everton’s odds are the least lucrative. Here are three reasons why:
New signings are in short supply
Even taking into account the £28 million paid for Romelu Lukaku at the start of last season, Everton’s revenue would have still been fairly good, taking into account television money and the additional gate receipts because of their European adventure.
Despite this, Martinez has only spent a touch more than £4 million so far this summer on bringing in Gerard Deulofeu, Tom Cleverley and young Belgian David Henan.
This doesn’t substantially improve upon last season’s squad, especially considering the likes of Newcastle, Aston Villa and Crystal Palace are making notable investments on their playing personnel.
Big-money transfers do not guarantee improved results, but there has to be the feeling that other clubs are looking to climb the table, while Everton stall.
Bearing in mind more clubs appeared to work out how to play against the Toffees last season and Martinez didn’t truly have a Plan B, some new signings could help provide this.
The latest comments following Duncan Ferguson’s testimonial is that a central defender, attacking midfielder and striker are all wanted.
Lukaku is due an injury
Arouna Kone, Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas may all be available too, but it’s fair to say that Everton have no obvious cover to really lead the line should Lukaku pick up an injury.
Interestingly, since the start of 2013, the Belgian has played 136 matches including friendlies and continually appearing at a high level at this frequency must leave him open to injuries.
He has already picked up a hamstring problem in the pre-season showdown with Dundee, although Martinez is confident he will be fit for the Premier League opener with Watford.
Everton could make the situation worse if rushing him back too soon and this would have repercussions on their hopes of returning to the top half of the Premier League standings.
The fixture list
It is true that every Premier League team will play 38 games across the season and each of the other 19 sides twice, but the arrangement of the fixture list can still benefit some and harm others.
Everton have been dealt a rougher hand than most in the sense that they face many of the big teams in short bursts, which could damage confidence if they embark on a run of defeats.
October is particularly bad with a gauntlet of Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal, while in a four-day January period they can look forward to away matches with Manchester City and Chelsea.