David Moyes insists Everton should be judged over his 10 years as manager rather than their form this season.
Moyes' side have slipped from second to fifth in the Premier League after drawing five of their last seven matches. Their next three games coming against sides who all finished in last season's top four - Arsenal, Manchester City and Tottenham.
And the results of those matches will go a long way to showing how far Everton can go in their push for European football this season. But asked to judge how he feels Everton are doing, Moyes prefers to take a long-term view, pointing to the fact that a club with relatively limited resources have managed to finish in the top eight in no fewer than eight of his 10 full seasons in charge.
"I think you measure Everton over a period of 10 years," Moyes said. "It would be wrong just to judge it at the start of the season. If you'd measured me at the start of last season, you'd be saying we were rubbish at this stage.
"So I think you measure Everton over the seasons, and over recent seasons, we've tended to compete pretty well."
Everton recovered to finish seventh last season, having been 16th in mid-November after winning only three of their opening 10 league games.
Expectations were raised this season after an impressive start that brought four wins from the opening six matches, but a run of draws since then have held up their progress.
"We should have taken some more points," Moyes said. "We didn't. But I can't fault the players for the way they've been playing in the main. They've been doing a lot of good things in the main, and we'll try to continue to do that. The only thing we need to add are some points to go along with it."
Moyes goes into Wednesday night's Premier League home game against Arsenal able to call again on Marouane Fellaini, who has served a one-match suspension. Striker Kevin Mirallas did not recover from a hamstring injury in time for last Saturday's 1-1 draw at home to Norwich, while midfielder Darron Gibson was not quite ready to return from a thigh problem that has kept him out of action since early September. Both remain doubtful for Wednesday's match.
Moyes is looking forward to meeting up again with midfielder Mikel Arteta, sold by Everton to Arsenal for £10 million in August 2011. The manager smiled when asked to react to Arteta's claim that Everton are Premier League title contenders this season.
"Well, that's very nice of Mikel," Moyes said. "He was a great player for us, and we enjoy seeing him back here. We don't enjoy seeing him back here in an Arsenal shirt, because he's such a good player.
"But we enjoy seeing him, because he was a great lad here and a big part of helping Everton develop and move forward. I'm not surprise at all by how well he's done at Arsenal. He's a very gifted footballer, and he's a great lad to work with.
"I actually think Arsenal will probably have been surprised by that as well because he's taken on a lot of leadership qualities in that side as well."
Moyes will look to strengthen his side in January, and went to watch 24-year-old Norwegian central defender Vegard Forren in action for Molde last week.
The manager played down the significance of his visit, saying: "I went to see Molde. It's a lovely place to go at this time of year. I thought it was very nice. The weather was very pleasant.
"We went to watch the game. I'd never, ever talk about players. It would be wrong to do so. We went to take the game in and I've got to say we quite enjoyed it. We got treated fantastically well by the football club. The hospitality was fabulous."