How good are we really?

by   |   02/03/2021  11 Comments  [Jump to last]

“The table never lies” – so goes the old expression and, generally, I don’t believe that it does. Over a whole season, the "luck”, poor refereeing decisions, and injuries tend to even out. Except that this season, I’m not totally convinced – at least not so far.

Ancelotti is doing what all good managers do – generally getting the best out of the players at his disposal, just like Dyche and Allardyce tend to do with their teams (no direct comparison of playing styles intended, by the way!). However, the Southampton victory, whilst a welcome relief, was for me a little disturbing in the manner in which it was achieved. But for the early goal, that game could easily have seen another Newcastle or Fulham outcome.

Yes, we were clearly the better side and, had the second goal not been ruled out (correctly), we might have cruised it 3-0 or 4-0 – but, for all that, they missed an absolute sitter and Pickford made a great stop right at the death. We didn't drop points, I know, but it shouldn’t have been so close. It all highlights the fine margins between success and failure.

I can’t really think of a match this season, with the exception, arguably, of Burnley away and Newcastle away (dubious game-changing penalty) when we have come away with less than we deserved. In games against Chelsea, Arsenal, Fulham away, last night, Southampton, we could have easily tossed away points; but for a very debatable late VAR decision, we would have lost at home to Liverpool. No, I think it's fair to say we've had the rub of the green so far this season.

So how good are we? Well, with the acquisition of Allan, Doucouré, Godfrey and James, much better than last season when we ended up looking like this season’s relegation candidates – but it's still hard work, determination, good organisation, and defence that has got us to where we are – potentially up to 4th on Thursday. But can we sustain it? Personally, I think that we are still overall inferior to Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Spurs and Leicester City, which leads me to believe that 7th is our current “default” position.

There’s still a lot of work to do if we are to establish ourselves as a regular top team. Margins are tight and only some more productive recruitment will consolidate what we are achieving. Let’s look forward with optimism whilst at the same time not delude ourselves meanwhile.

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Reader Comments (11)

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Andy Crooks
1 Posted 03/03/2021 at 18:38:46
Good question, Ray and one to which my answer changes from " we are total shite", to " nearly there" on a weekly basis.
To me, this season has offered a great opportunity to get Champions League football. The fact that we will likely not achieve that, suggests to me that we are really not that good.
However, in this strange season, really not that good, should suffice for Europa league.
Tony Abrahams
2 Posted 03/03/2021 at 19:11:19
A work in progress. We have a squad with a limited number of attacking players, so it’s no surprise we are better at defending, although we do attack better when we use more width, if and when the manager chooses to play this way.

My main concern the other night was that we only looked threatening from set-pieces, but that’s probably the only time we got a few players getting in our opponents box, during a very conservative game.

I agree with Andy, it changes week to week, but being hard to beat is keeping us hanging in there Ray, although this is not to everyone’s liking, even if it’s still early days for Ancellotti, who never really had much to play with from the beginning.

Bobby Mallon
3 Posted 03/03/2021 at 19:37:11
You know what ray, who cares, all the teams have things go for and against in the season. We have been much better than all those teams below us and not as good as the teams above us and the same as Liverpool who have scored more goals
Rob Dolby
4 Posted 03/03/2021 at 20:09:19
Good post. Hopefully we are good enough to qualify for the Europa League next season and build in the summer.

Comparing our squad against City, Utd, Chelsea and Spurs we are miles away.

I think we have a decent first 11 but even that wouldn't frighten City.

Ancelotti is getting the best out of the squad. Players like Davies, DCL, Keane and Mina are playing better than in previous seasons. Fine margins do separate games near the top of the table and in Ancelotti we have a manager that seems to come out on top in fine margin games more often than not.

To close the gap on the stronger teams we need to strengthen in the summer. Breaking our transfer record a couple of times on quality players will make others take us more seriously and provide Ancelotti some assurance that Moshiri means business. My fear is that Moshiri doesn't back Ancelotti and we are back to treading water.

Pat Byrne
5 Posted 04/03/2021 at 14:27:58
Just on Champions League rules... Is it still the case that, if we finished 4th and Chelsea or Liverpool finished outside the top 4 but one of them won the Champions League, that Everton would be dropped to the Europa League?

Question might be a little premature but could put us in the nightmare scenario of Liverpool talking our place.

Barry Rathbone
6 Posted 04/03/2021 at 21:36:23
Said it on another thread you can't gauge much from this covid season played at vacant stadia. If normal hostilities were in play I would put us in the upper mid-table bracket but as it is we're making the most of things and right up there.

Like West Ham it looks like empty grounds suit us.

Tony Abrahams
7 Posted 04/03/2021 at 21:50:49
So they say Barry, with the same experts saying it doesn’t suit Liverpool, even though I’m sure they’ve still picked up more home points than Everton, so far this season.
Tony Everan
8 Posted 06/03/2021 at 11:04:37
Ray, I think the progress of DCL, lately Richarlison, Godfrey, Davies is central to the question. Young players whose improvement is powering the team forward. The blend between excellent professionals like Michael Keane and Allan and the youngsters is looking well balanced.

We’ve been winning ugly, but I think there is more to come from this team.

Carlo has said he wants only two maybe three signings in the summer. That tells me that he thinks this team is close but needs a couple of players in the summer to iron out the weaknesses.

How good we are currently is relative to our competitors. On any given day (with key players fit) we can beat any of the protagonists for 2nd 3rd and 4th.

Ray Robinson
9 Posted 06/03/2021 at 13:01:01
Tony #8, I agree. We can beat anybody from second position down, Equally, we can lose, not once but twice to Newcastle!

The side does indeed show much promise and is in work in progress but 10 of our victories have been by a single goal. Lyndon described these margins as "razor thin". That's my point. All that it takes is one poor VAR decision, one lapse in concentration, a sending off etc for those victories to become draws. I'll be able to judge how good we really are when we start killing off games. The way we play now is that we have to score first.

I'm happy with our progress and think we will improve with some measured signings but as to how good we currently are, all I can say is probably somewhere between 4th and 10th.

Pat #5, my understanding of that scenario is that England would have 5 teams in the Champions League and only 2 in the UEFA. Of course, the footballing bodies would find another way to allow Liverpool into the Champions League, I'm sure!

Ralph Basnett
10 Posted 06/03/2021 at 20:51:13
Latest rules for Champions League qualification is our top four qualify.

If someone outside the top four wins the Champions League they also qualify.

If someone from the Premier League also wins the Europa League, they qualify. So that makes a maximum of six allowed from England.

If they do not finish in top four or win Champions League, they have a 'special wild card entry and Everton will drop to the Europa League.

The most we could have six, obviously dependant on how they do!!!!

Andrew Keatley
11 Posted 06/03/2021 at 21:05:19
Ralph (10) - Apologies if I have this wrong (I really don’t think I do though) but the Premier League are only able to have a maximum of 5 teams qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League. In the event that a Premier League team wins the Champions League and a Premier League team wins the Europa League and both fail to finish in the top four of the Premier League then the 4th placed position in the league will be downgraded to Europa League qualification only.

Even the other lot cannot get around that.

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