Things are going relatively well for Everton and Marco Silva at the moment, with the Toffees currently sixth in the Premier League table.
Their latest victory over Cardiff City saw them leapfrog Manchester United and break into the famous ‘top six’, for now.
A number of new players arrived last summer, which is always a risk, but some particularly good business was done in the final days of the transfer window.
Some of those players are really starting to come to the fore now, which has people wondering just how far Everton can go this season.
We’ve compared Everton’s squad to the other sides that currently make up the Premier League’s top six to see whether they have a chance of still being at the end of the season.
Goalkeepers: Jordan Pickford, Maarten Stekelenburg, Joao Virginia
Defenders: Seamus Coleman, Mason Holgate, Jonjoe Kenny, Michael Keane, Kurt Zouma, Yerry Mina, Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines, Lucas Digne
The Toffees’ defence was boosted by the arrivals of both Kurt Zouma and Yerry Mina late on in the transfer window.
In recent weeks, Silva’s first-choice back five has started to emerge, with Pickford, Coleman, Keane, Mina and Digne probably his first choice options as it stands whilst Kurt Zouma is a brilliant alternative.
The introduction of Mina, in particular, looks promising. The Toffees are yet to concede with the Colombian on the pitch, which includes 90 minutes against Chelsea.
#SquawkaScout: Yerry Mina 💃
The only defender in World Cup history to score three headers in a single tournament.
New club: Everton 🔵 pic.twitter.com/JWqrjU7657
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) August 9, 2018
Although these options are much improved on last season, you’d say at least four of the top five Premier League sides have better players to choose from at the back.
You could argue, though, that one or two of Everton’s defenders would get into Arsenal’s defence at present, which still looks very shaky at times. Michael Keane has been particularly impressive so far this season, winning more aerial duels (64) than any other player from the clubs in question.
Midfielders: Idrissa Gueye, Andre Gomes, Morgan Schneiderlin, James McCarthy, Kieran Dowell, Tom Davies, Beni Baningime, Gylfi Sigurdsson
Barcelona midfielder Andre Gomes was the only fresh addition to Everton’s midfield last summer. The Portugal international arrived on a season-long loan deal at the end of the transfer window.
He wasn’t fit at the start of the season, but his introduction to the team has coincided with Everton’s rich vein of form, putting in his most complete performance to date in the recent 1-0 victory against Cardiff.
André Gomes' game by numbers vs. Cardiff:
85.7% pass accuracy
5 aerial duels won
Fitting in quite nicely. 🔵 pic.twitter.com/7KzYIQMuh0
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 26, 2018
As it stands, Silva’s preferred central trio is a double pivot of Gueye and Gomes with Sigurdsson starring in the No.10 role.
The Iceland international has been one of Everton’s best performers so far this season and Silva’s attacking style of play seems to suit him very well. He’s already notched an impressive seven goals this term.
Gylfi Sigurdsson in the Premier League for Everton:
2017/18: 27 games; 4 goals, 3 assists
2018/19: 13 games; 6 goals, 2 assists
Already bettering last season’s contribution. pic.twitter.com/d91hSbb12n
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 24, 2018
As for Gueye, the stats speak to themselves. The Senegalese has made at least 30 more tackles than any other ‘top six’ player (59), made more interceptions (29) and made the most recoveries (95). He is quickly establishing himself as one of Europe’s most elite ball winners.
You would again say that the majority of the sides above Everton boast better individual options, but the Toffee’s first choice midfield trio is more balanced than Man Utd’s and definitely rivals Arsenal’s at the moment.
Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka and Mesut Ozil have had good seasons so far, but the goals provided by Sigurdsson and the ball-winning output of Gueye is mightly impressive.
Forwards: Theo Walcott, Bernard, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Ademola Lookman, Cenk Tosun, Richarlison, Oumar Niasse
Many were surprised to see Everton splash so much cash on Richarlison in the summer but you’d say it’s definitely looking like money well spent as it stands.
The former Watford forward has played a lot of this term as a central striker, with Cenk Tosun underperforming during the early weeks of the season.
He has adapted very well, though, with six goals in 11 Premier League appearances, earning himself multiple call-ups to the senior Brazil squad in the process. The 21-year-old certainly wouldn’t look out of place at a top five club; he has everything.
A former member of the top six is, in fact, is the weakest link in Everton’s frontline. Theo Walcott’s place in the side looks increasingly under threat from either of the impressive England U21 internationals at Silva’s disposal: Ademola Lookman or Dominic Calvert-Lewin.
If the defence is Everton’s strongest area of the pitch – both in terms of talent and depth of it – then the attack is their weakest.
Marco Silva has unreliable replacements for Richarlison in the most advanced role. Bernard looks promising, as do the young English pair, but Walcott’s place in the side is an indicator that their forward line can certainly be improved.
Five current Premier League players are averaging more than one goal/assist per 90 minutes since the start of last season:
🔵 Sergio Agüero (1.20)
🔴 Mohamed Salah (1.16)
🔵 Raheem Sterling (1.07)
🔴 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (1.03)
🔵 Leroy Sané (1.01)
At least 90 mins played. pic.twitter.com/IIRFIoM4MB
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) November 25, 2018
When compared to the likes of Sergio Aguero, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mohamed Salah and Harry Kane, the gulf becomes even clearer.
This time last year, Marco Silva was quickly establishing himself as one of the most promising young managers in the Premier League with Watford, before apparent interest from Everton totally derailed his and the Hornets’ good progress.
Eventually, it got to the point where Watford decided they had to change something, with Silva’s head clearly turned, and he was sacked.
The Portuguese coach eventually got his move to Goodison Park following the departure of Sam Allardyce earlier this year, but he had a lot to prove after a disappointing end to his time at Vicarage Road.
But it certainly does look like he’s starting to get this Everton side to perform in the way he wants and, crucially, he has the resources to bring in some impressive players, just as he did in the summer.
Everything points towards a brighter future for the Toffees, but it’s still early days. Silva still has a lot of work to do if he’s to be considered one of the league’s best coaches, with Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino, Maurizio Sarri and Unai Emery all picking up good results with their sides so far this season.
Consistency will be the key as we enter the busy festive period.
The signs of an exciting future under Marco Silva are certainly there for Everton, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
They have started to piece together a good young squad with greater quality than they’ve had in recent years, but they must carry on adding to that in the upcoming transfer windows.
The Toffees are still a way off the quality of the top five teams – five points behind fifth-placed Arsenal – but Manchester United’s poor form and apparent disarray may give them an opportunity to push for a top six place.