Martinez and Everton have an off-day against Palace

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

If there was a specific guideline for supporting Everton, it would be: always expect the unexpected. This midweek fixture against Crystal Palace seemed a formality at first glance with the Blues on home turf, boasting seven successive league wins and nine consecutive home victories.

However, from the omission of James McCarthy, with the midfielder unable to start due to injury, to the overly bold team selection and the disappointing performance that followed, the 3-2 defeat ensured a night to forget for the home side. Continue Reading...

Everton march on in quest for fourth

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Everton struck a potentially telling blow in the race for fourth on Saturday, grinding out a vital 1-0 win against a stricken Sunderland, moving above Arsenal in the process. Crucially, for the first time in this two-horse Champions League race, the Gunners are now the ones doing the chasing.

- Report: Sunderland 0-1 Everton
- Report: Martinez: "We'll need to break records"

This was a largely abrasive affair, especially in the first half, with the match resembling a training game of attack vs. Continue Reading...

Everton's loan critics miss the point

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

EvertonGettyImagesRomelu Lukaku is a prime example of how Everton have used the loan market to their advantage.

Loans remain a steady talking point this season -- scrutiny continues to fall on Roberto Martinez and his resourceful use of them, with Everton capitalising on this open market to improve the squad of a club lacking the financial resources of their competitors.

On the two prominent occasions in which loans have become the focus of attention, it has coincided with fixtures against Arsenal. With the two sides battling it out for fourth place and the accompanying Champions League spot, this may not be the last we hear on the matter. Continue Reading...

Open training underlines Martinez's approach

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Tim Howard in Everton training.GettyImagesGoalkeeper Tim Howard trained with the outfield players during Everton's open training session on Tuesday.

Everton, as planned, held an open training session at Goodison Park on Tuesday morning. Just under 4,000 supporters turned out to watch the first team being put through their paces by Roberto Martinez and his coaching staff.

Among those present was Duncan Ferguson, the newest member of Martinez's backroom team, back kicking a ball on this hallowed turf for the first time since his retirement in May 2006. The one-time centre forward received a warm ovation from those in attendance. Continue Reading...

Tricky Toffee Martinez outfoxes Wenger at Goodison Park

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

When a bedraggled Everton capitulated at the Emirates in the FA Cup just 29 days ago, a once-promising season looked set to peter out. The squad had struggled with injuries, and those left standing appeared spent.

Less than a month later, the picture is much changed. The final whistle of this commanding 3-0 win moved the Toffees to within a point of their defeated visitor with a game in hand, capping the team’s best performance of the season.

- McNicholas: Defeat piles pressure on Wenger
- Jolly: Three things: Everton vs. Continue Reading...

Faith in youth highlights the Martinez effect

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Scott Heavey/Getty ImagesRoberto Martinez is trusting in Everton's young talent and it's paying off.

Plenty of focus has fallen on the impact of Roberto Martinez since taking the Goodison reins. From the effective use of substitutes -- 20 percent of Everton's goals have come from the bench -- to remodelling the style of play and engineering a European push in his first season, Martinez is breathing new life into a sleeping giant.

Unsurprisingly, with Martinez wanting his side to control matches, the amount of passes per game, passing accuracy and possession have all improved this season. Continue Reading...

Substitutes keep Everton marching on

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

The football was not always easy on the eye in this 3-1 win over Fulham for Everton. In fact it was downright ugly at times, but the path toward victory is largely irrelevant at this stage of the season; it is the winning itself that matters most.

- Report: Everton 3-1 Fulham
- Report: Martinez hopeful of UCL spot

Scoring three goals for the third match in succession, winning is becoming a pleasing habit for Everton. This was a fifth consecutive league win, which is the best run since the early days under David Moyes; the Blues won six in a row in October-November 2002. Continue Reading...

Deulofeu can inspire Everton's European push

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Gerard Deulofeu celeb Everton StokeAllsportGerard Deulofeu adds freshness and invention to Everton's attack.

When Everton conceded a morale-sapping goal at the death against Chelsea last month, slipping to a third consecutive away defeat without scoring, few could have envisaged the contrast in results and mood just five weeks later.

Buoyed by a resounding win at Newcastle on Tuesday, one that moves the Toffees into the Champions League picture -- something that seemed almost unthinkable prior to this four-match winning run -- Everton have one crucial aspect in their favour: momentum. Continue Reading...

Everton dare to dream after Newcastle win

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Ian Horrocks/Getty ImagesNewcastle's miserable day was capped off by Leon Osman's late goal for Everton.

Stumbling through recent matches, collecting three points but rarely convincing in terms of performance, Everton can view this 3-0 win over Newcastle as a welcome, overdue reminder of the quality football that had them just one point off fourth place in January.

The defensive flaws evident against Swansea on Saturday ceased to exist. Those in royal blue worked together, playing as a cohesive unit in attack and defence, rather than a ragtag bunch of individuals.

- Report: Newcastle 0-3 Everton

With the Toffees' previous visit to St James' Park being followed by a winless away run that stretched from January to May last season, it was perhaps fitting that this latest visit ended a similar sequence. Continue Reading...

It's all about getting the balance right

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Romelu Lukaku goal Everton vs SwanseaGettyImagesRomelu Lukaku restored Everton's lead after Wilfried Bony levelled.

Despite serving up a largely forgettable performance, Everton racked up their eighth successive home win in all competitions on Saturday, winning 3-2 against a Swansea side intent on showing their league position to be a false one.

The win ensures the Blues continue to have their European destiny in their own hands, although that destiny is likely to be the Europa League. Arsenal may seem catchable, especially if upcoming results are favourable before the sides meet at Goodison next month, but fourth spot looks a bridge too far on current form. Continue Reading...

Martinez right to reward fab four

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Earlier in the week, Everton manager Roberto Martinez spoke glowingly about four of the younger members of his squad -- James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman, Ross Barkley and John Stones -- and his plan to reward them with contract extensions.

- Report: Pienaar set to miss three weeks

Aside from Barkley, who has two years to run on his current deal, the others are already on lengthy contracts: Coleman has three years remaining, while McCarthy and Stones are tied down for four more years. Continue Reading...

Everton need set-piece improvements

Posted by Luke O'Farrell

Lost amid the last-gasp Seamus Coleman winner and the relief at a much-needed three points were a number of incidents in the win over Cardiff that highlighted the increasingly problematic issue of set-pieces for Everton.

Prior to Juan Cala bundling home the Cardiff equaliser, the warning signs had already surfaced. As the visitors prepared to deliver a first-half corner, with Everton continuing the flawed process of bringing every outfield player back to defend set pieces, Leighton Baines was remonstrating with his teammates. Continue Reading...