Everton are improving under Marco Silva but need to dream bigger

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Marco Silva has been under pressure as Everton manager this season but all in all the league standing of the club and especially their last 2 months has proven that the team are improving under Silva’s guidance.

Football doesn’t do time like it did years ago and it looked like Silva’s job was under real threat during Christmas. The rot set in around October, after losing to West Ham in the league who were struggling to get any points at the time and then getting knocked out of the Carabao Cup to Southampton who were also in poor form. The problem for Everton is that their poor form extended until the end of February and after being knocked out of the FA Cup against Millwall Silva’s fate seem sealed.

Would he have gone had Liverpool beaten Everton at Goodison Park? Possibly so- but that is the game where everything changed for the club. Putting in a solid defensive display and not afraid to come forward Everton earned a point in a match that ended 0-0. Soon after the run continued and so did form, when can one remember Everton beating the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United in short succession? The latter game ending 4-0 for Silva’s team.

If we look at the last 10 games, Everton are 3rd only behind Manchester City and Liverpool and have gained 20 points in that time, losing just 2 games and winning 60% of their games. They have scored 16 goals, which perhaps could be better but they have only conceded 5 goals. It has been a complete turnaround for the club since that Merseryside derby draw back at the beginning of March.

Players have shone too- Richarlison bought from Watford for £40m upwards has returned 13 goals in the league and 14 overall. Gylfi Sigurdsson has the same number of goals and the £50m man has really excelled under Silva. What has been really important for the club is also the way they are playing- with an attacking flair. Sure we have seen shades of negative tactics borne from the managerial periods of both David Moyes and more recently Sam Allardyce but the majority of Everton’s play and their all round attitude has been very positive and it does bode well for the future.

It will be fascinating to see how Silva approaches the summer transfer period and what new faces will come through the doors of the club. For now the club are taking small steps in the right direction. Look at last season when they finished with 49 points, they already have 53 and if they beat Tottenham on the final day of the season they will finish a massive 7 points in front of last.

Perhaps if this season had been Silva’s 3rd in charge we wouldn’t be talking about progress, but given this is his debut season with the club it will be interesting to see where he can take the Toffee’s, who from next year will have gone 25 years without a trophy, that is simply over due on anyone’s account.

EPL Best XI – Week 37

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The curtain is almost down. The business is almost done. With just a single round of games remaining in the Premier League, the relegation battle is finished but the title race remains very much alive. With the final game of the season being the time that this year’s Premier League champions will be identified, there is still plenty to play for at the summit of England’s top flight. With that said, let’s adopt a 4-3-3 formation this week and see which players performed the best for their clubs this past weekend.

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EPL: Premier League Predictions for Week 37

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There are just 2 games left in the Premier League and all options are open. Who will win the league? Manchester City or Liverpool? City lead by just 1 point and the answer looks like it’s going down to the final game. Both have of course qualified for the Champions League.

However 3rd and 4th is still up for grabs, and Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United will do battle for those places. Then there is the curious place of relegation. The final place is down to Cardiff and Brighton, one of them will be going down- more will be revealed this weekend.

Below we take a look at the fixtures for this weekend and predictions.

Everton v Burnley

Everton have been in good form for the last 2 months now and at home they have won their last 3 games in a row and unbeaten in 4. Burnley have also been in good form, but they should be outclassed for this game. Gylfi Sigurdsson has been brilliant this season for the club and he could get on the score sheet. Everton to beat Burnley

Bournemouth v Tottenham

Tottenham will start as favourites but they lost against Ajax in midweek in the Champions League, and their focus will be on the 2nd leg. If they are not on the ball they could lose this game the good news is that Bournemouth’s form has collapsed and they have been very poor. Tottenham to beat Bournemouth

West Ham v Southampton

West Ham have gone their last two matches unbeaten and last week they became the first ever team to beat Tottenham at their new stadium. Southampton are safe and have lost just one game in their past four. Shane Long can give the Hammers a lot of problems and we are expecting the spoils to be shared here. Draw

Wolves v Fulham

How ironic that Fulham have been brilliant since they have got relegated and have won their last 3 games in a row. This game though is a big stretch for them away to Wolves. Wolves are going for a 7th place finish and the likes of Diogo Jota could be the difference. This has the potential to be a big score for the home team. Wolves to beat Fulham

Cardiff v Crystal Palace

This is it for Cardiff, they must win this match. They are at least at home, and they have had a mixture of being unlucky and poor in recent months. If Cardiff lose they will be going down. As for Palace they have won 4 of their last 5 away games and just look like quality. Cardiff have not beaten Palace since 2012, this might be a very close match. Cardiff to beat Crystal Palace

Newcastle v Liverpool

Liverpool have a terrible record at St James’ Park at the same time if they lose or even draw this game their league title will be in jeopardy. Newcastle are safe and in decent form, winning 4 of their last 5 games at home. Liverpool are in brilliant form, but will have the 2nd leg of their Champions League game against Barcelona on their mind too. Rafa Benitez obviously loves his former club- and they have the better quality at the end of the day. New PFA player of he year Virgi van Dijk will also want to put in a performance. Liverpool to beat Newcastle

Chelsea v Watford

Chelsea’s major criticism in the second half of the season has been focus because they have the quality. If they don’t focus here they give up a top 4 place. Of course a few days later they have the Europa League. Players such as Gonzalo Higuaín and Olivier Giroud have to step up. Chelsea to beat Watford

Huddersfield v Manchester United

Manchester United look like they will miss out on a top 4 place after their poor form of the last month. Having said that playing Huddersfield represents the perfect chance for them to win and score goals and reinstall confidence. Paul Pogba has been under a lot of criticism lately he should try and relish this opportunity to score and help his team in what should be an easy victory for the club. Manchester United to beat Huddersfield

Arsenal v Brighton

This game will be attack v defence and even though Arsenal come here having lost their last 3 games in a row we expect Unai Emery’s side to get back on track and win this match. Arsenal still remain a very strong side at home with just 2 defeats all season, but this match could be settled by one piece of magic. Mesut Ozil to step up? Arsenal to beat Burnley

Manchester City v Leicester

If Liverpool beat Newcastle they will be 2 points clear at the top for the whole weekend as this match takes place on Monday evening. Leicester under Claude Puel beat City earlier in the season, but now City are at home and will be massive favourites to get all three points. They are sure to start quick and Sergio Aguero will be a danger throughout. Manchester City to beat Leicester

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How Gary Neville showed a lack of respect to Everton and most other Premier League clubs

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There are problems at Manchester United but while everyone is pointing the finger at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, he is, not after five months in charge of the club the problem. The Norwegian was responsible for taking the club back to their free flowing football after the miserable opening the club showed in the first half of the season under Jose Mourinho, where they simply looked too afraid to play.

Results are going south- but it isn’t Solskjaers fault, not yet. Let’s not go and blame the same person that we were all full of praise for a month ago. Yes the honeymoon is over, players careers at the club are clearly on the line and a top 4 place looks in jeopardy. No matter a top 4 place was a distant dream before Solskjaer showed up, if anything he gave the Red Devils hope. His stay of execution from the media frenzy should at least wait until the middle of next season after he has been able to adapt himself more with the club, get his slippers under his desk office and of course splash the cash in the summer transfer window.

But there are problems at the club, and we can talk about the Glazer family all day, the players they have let slip through the net and Ed Woodward and his ill fated contract extension given to Jose Mourinho which cost the club a reporter £15m upwards.

Alas what we need to speak about is United’s self worth, its feeling of superiority over other clubs, even though the trophies have dried up and the best of times are clearly behind them. Not everybody associated with this great and infamous club is guilty, but one person stepped forward on Sky Sports at the weekend and he was ex player Gary Neville, seen as a genuine club legend, and make no mistakes he was.

Neville was being interviewed for Sky Sports and was obviously very angry at United’s showing, wanting a clear out of players. All of that was quite understandable. What wasn’t was when he mentioned that Everton’s players had run 4km more than United’s in the first half and once he said it he repeated ”Everton”! as if it was such a shock. What Neville did in that split second was show a complete lack of respect for the clubs values.

Attacking a teams physical fitness is not the same as attacking their quality, and it seemed a very privileged thing to do as Neville did. It demeaned all of Everton’s hard work and it felt like an extended attack on the teams that year in and year out do not have the financial spending power of United, the teams that finish 7th and below in other words.

United are a quality team despite this season and despite their indifferences since Sir Alex Ferguson retired nearly 6 years ago. They are also a team attached with class and etiquette just like all of the major European superpowers.

But in that moment Neville arguably tossed that away and showed a club in his view that are self privileged. Neville is an excellent pundit and his knowledge of the game in England is second to none, he can do better than that, one hopes that he recognises it.

What can Everton hope for?

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Everton made it four wins in their last five Premier League games by hammering a hapless Manchester United side 4-0 at Goodison Park on Sunday.

Goals from Richarlison, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Lucas Digne and Theo Walcott gave United and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer many big problems to mull over. However, that’s not anything for Marco Silva and the blue half of Merseyside to concern themselves with.

What Everton, as a club, do need to consider, is exactly what they can hope to achieve over the next few years.

That 4-0 win puts Everton in 7th position in the Premier League, ahead of Watford on goal difference. Yet, in the grand scheme of things, The Toffees are as far away from the league’s big six as they’ve ever been. Continue reading

EPL Game of the Weekend – Everton vs Man Utd

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The late Jerry Reed once released a song entitled “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot” – and no truer words could possibly be spoken about Marco Silva’s Everton of late. Just a few weeks ago, Silva’s position at the club seemed questionable, and the Toffees faced a nightmare run of home fixtures against Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Man Utd – not the type of fixture list a manager under pressure would be hoping to see! Having now emerged from that run of games with three wins and one draw – and without conceding a single goal in the process – Everton fans will be delighted with the football their team has been playing against some of England’s top teams. Everton have been the club of the week several times in the last month or so, and beat Man Utd 4-0 this weekend.

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EPL Best XI – Week 35

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With the Premier League season continuing whittling itself down to what seems destined to be a thrilling conclusion, nothing more was decided during this past weekend’s action. The battle to avoid being the last side to be relegated from the top flight this season remains far from over, while various intricate races / challenges at the top of the table appear nowhere nearer to being resolved. Liverpool remain two points ahead of Man City at the top of the league with City having a game in hand, Everton impressed many by beating Man Utd 4-0 at Goodison Park and Crystal Palace pulled off a great 3-2 win over Arsenal at the Emirates. With all that said, let us now adopt a 4-3-3 formation and take a peek at which players performed the best this weekend.

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Everton 4-0 Man Utd: Top four hopes are definitely over for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United had a big chance to go into top four for the first time in recent months, with their next fixture being against Everton, a side that are in the top half of the table and have produced several huge results against the league’s top-six this term at home.

Marco Silva’s side started the game on all fronts, as they enjoyed majority of the possession in the first half and were causing a number of problems in United’s own half. It only took the hosts 13 minutes to take the lead, which started off from a long throw-in from Lucas Digne, which was touched on by Dominic Calvert-Lewin before Richarlison volleyed the ball into the back of the net.

Everton doubled their lead through a counter attack just before the half an hour mark, which was via a well-taken shot by Gylfi Sigurdsson which somehow caught David De Gea off guard. On the other hand, the visitors were unable to do anything in the first half, as they allowed the hosts to play the ball around with flair and freedom whilst reaching the half-time break with no shots completed on target at all.

Things went from bad to worse for the visitors in the second half, as Everton were not even trying to pile on the pressure and still managed to score another two goals through Lucas Digne and Theo Walcott. As a whole, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manchester United will now see this season as a finished one, with no trophies to play for as well as the hopes of finishing in the top four being over.

Here are the three factors we learnt from Manchester United’s latest league game…

Lack of defensive composure from the team

United were all over the place from start till end, especially on the defensive side of the game, where they allowed Everton complete 15 shots, with eight of them being on target. Over the last couple of weeks, it has been more than clear that the side cannot soak up the pressure and defend for majority of the game, yet they still decide to sit very deep rather than making the opposition work on and off the ball.

Like many managers and players have said in the past, the best form of defence is to attack, meaning the more you play in the opponent’s half and the more you attack the ball in that side of the pitch, the less defensive duties you will have to worry about. If United were able to use this saying and put it into serious play, they would have a better chance of winning league matches constantly whilst being defensively sound.

No urgency or desire to dominate and retrieve possession

With the recent statistics stating the hosts ran 8kms more than the visitors, it really sums up the game as a whole of which side were more desperate and hungry for the three points and which one were not. On top of that, Tottenham Hotspur’s defeat against Man City yesterday and Arsenal losing to Crystal Palace today, will inflict more frustration and pain into United’s missed and wasted chance of going into the top four.

For sure, the Red Devils have had the chances here and there to return into the top four over the last couple of weeks, but it cannot be possible to complete without dominating possession properly and creating constant chances. The side looked like they became a high pressing team in Ole’s first few games in charge; however, they have now referred to a defensive or a park the bus method that was once deployed under Jose Mourinho, who was crucified by literally everyone for this specific style of play.

Manchester United need to act quickly and prepare for the summer window

With how the season has panned out so far and the fact that the club have gone through another campaign trophy-less, Manchester United need to get their act together and prepare themselves for a make or break summer transfer window. If they fail to buy and sell the correct players, they may not go on to compete in any competitions effectively for the next two to three years whilst also possibly losing their main stars.

Overall, the club have wasted a lot of money and have not planned well in each of the summer windows they have gone through since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson. However, if they manage to spend aggressively and miss out on the areas that badly need strengthening, they will start to fall down the pecking in the Premier League. Something they are currently facing, and could fall even further below both Arsenal and Chelsea, two football clubs who have been facing their own problems in recent months.

EPL: Premier League Predictions for Week 35

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The English Premier League only has a few weeks left and there is clearly a reason why football fans regard the league as the most exciting and competitive. That is because the league title is the closest of all the European major leagues and will most likely go down to the wire between Liverpool and Manchester City.

There are 2 Champions League places to take care of as Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham do battle to secure a top 4 place. And Cardiff have given themselves a chance by beating Brighton in midweek- all is to play for as we enter another weekend of Premier League football which should be enthralling and fascinating.

Manchester City v Tottenham

Just where do we start after the teams played out an incredible Champions League 2nd leg quarter final where City won 4-3 on the night but went out on the away goals rule. City need to win this game or that could be the title over too. They will be utterly determined to win this game at home now. Watch out for Raheem Sterling who was denied a hat trick because of VAR, a system not used in the Premier League yet. Manchester City to beat Tottenham

Bournemouth v Fulham

Fulham got a terrific victory over Everton last weekend even though they are down, but their away form is very poor. Eddie Howe’s side are safe and beat Brighton 5-0 in their last match. Callum Wilson could be the difference between the sides, but this should be a close game. Draw

Huddersfield v Watford

More than likely Watford’s mindset will be preparing for the FA Cup final even if it is still a month away. They will be without influential player Troy Deeney who was sent off in the defeat against Arsenal. Huddersfield are relegated and have little to play for, except for home pride and we could see a surprise result here. Huddersfield to beat Watford

West Ham v Leicester

West Ham have been in poor form but the players put in a great shift against Manchester United at Old Trafford and if they can take something from that game even though they lost they could do well here. Felipe Anderson played very well. Leicester have been strong under Brendan Rodgers but lost their last game at home to Newcastle where they didn’t turn up. West Ham to beat Leicester

Wolves v Brighton

Wolves have been excellent this season but they have just 1 win in their past four games. However at home against a poor form side like Brighton this should be 3 points and they could be back in the hunt for a 7th place finish. Brighton continue to be poor in 2019 and could now face a relegation dog fight. Wolves to beat Brighton

Newcastle v Southampton

The Magpies pulled off a great result last weekend going to Leicester and getting a 1-0 win and playing well. Southampton have just 1 win in their past four games and this is their furthest trip in league fixtures. We will opt for the home win here in a game where we could see plenty of goals. Newcastle to beat Southampton

Everton v Manchester United

Since the beginning of March Everton have found form and Marco Silva’s job has been saved. But they put in a toothless display against Fulham last weekend and lost. Back at home where they beat Arsenal and Chelsea recently they can give United a game. United have been in average form and were knocked out in the Champions League against Barcelona, but remain a danger as they hunt for a top 4 finish. Could Everton’s Richarlison be the difference? Draw

Arsenal v Crystal Palace

Arsenal should have few problems against Palace and get all three points. The Gunners have been one of the best teams in the league at home and have lost here just once back on the opening day of the season. Palace are safe and have little to play for. Pierre Emerick- Aubameyang is in great form and will relish this game. Arsenal to beat Crystal Palace

Cardiff v Liverpool

Cardiff got a massive victory over Brighton in midweek to give themselves a chance for survival. But they must keep winning. The problem is they are facing Liverpool and this will be a difficult match. Liverpool just keep on collecting the points, and whilst this will be  a difficult game for the Reds they should have enough quality up front to hurt the home team. Liverpool to beat Cardiff

Chelsea v Burnley

Chelsea still have a great chance to finish in the top four, the problem is that their direct rivals have 5 games to play while they have 4. That means that every game counts but winning at least at home is essential. Eden Hazard is looking the business as he possibly wraps up his career with the Blues. Burnley are in excellent form with 3 wins from their last 3 games but have lost 9 times on the road this season. Chelsea to beat Burnley

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EPL Weekend Picks – Week 35

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With just a few games left in the Premier League campaign, things are starting to take shape and will continue to do so with this weekend’s round of matches. There is no Friday night fixture this week, but instead we have a big card of games on Saturday with three coming on Sunday and one on Monday evening, with games every day next week except for Thursday as matches in hand are played. Man City taking on Tottenham in Saturday’s lunchtime kickoff looks to be the biggest game of the weekend, but there are plenty of games in store to keep us guessing. Bournemouth host relegated Fulham hoping to build on their impressive 5-0 win at Brighton last weekend, while Newcastle host Southampton in Saturday’s late game. Let’s go for a 4-3-3 here!

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