Everton given up the fight? Don't be daft
A POPULAR theory has it that Everton's draw with Aston Villa on Sunday means they have surrendered the initiative in the race for Europe. Don't believe it for one minute!
Things will become much clearer following the next round of games, but I am still convinced that the Blues will finish fifth, and have every confidence they will defy the odds by getting a point at Arsenal next weekend.
Sure, it was disappointing to surrender the lead twice against Villa, but there were signs that we were starting to get back to something like our best. And I would much rather be in our position than Villa's with two games to go.
It is dangerous to make assumptions in football. Just because Villa's run-in appears to be the easier on paper, why does that automatically mean they are going to get six points? West Ham, for one, will have something to say about that on the final day.
But we have to look forward to the Emirates Stadium visit and there were enough positives to take from the Villa game to ensure we travel with confidence. This is a game to look forward to rather than be terrified of.
Of course, one win in the seven games we have played since being knocked out of Europe is not inspirational form, and critics will point to Everton not being the strongest of finishers. But there is a reason why results dip at this stage.
The players put so much effort into accruing a good total early on, and the relentless style we play inevitably means that fatigue will become a factor towards the end of a campaign. But, as has been the case in recent years, we have been adept at nicking a win just at the right time.
Three points from our remaining two games might just be good enough for us to clinch fifth place but four will make it absolutely certain and it's high time Everton got a result against one of the sides above them this season.
Arsenal might be a fabulous side, who play some outstanding football, but they are not the best at chasing a game. A goal for us early on would put a different slant on things all together.
I'd also be pretty confident if that happens of us being ahead of Villa when the league table is updated. on Sunday evening. All being well, that will be the case when the final ball is kicked on May 11, too.