Everton's Lead THE finest compliment to pay Everton for their astonishing climb up
the table is that they no longer haul the element of surprise with
It will be unbelievable if the smallest squad in the Premiership
remains on the coattails of Arsenal and Chelsea beyond winter and
maintains a European position that will draw big talent to big
investment and convince the likes of Thomas Gravesen they can find
ambition not attrition at Goodison Park.
But, for now, Everton have every reason to feel at home in the
league's upper tier. And to feel comfortable too.
David Moyes's team arrived on the south coast confident of becoming
the first team since February to take three points from Portsmouth,
played with the confidence of a top-three team and left with their
third, deserved one-nil victory in succession.
Had their assured display only earned a draw then attention would have
diverted onto the absence of a Wayne Rooney or maybe even a Tomasz
Radzinski to provide the finishing touch.
Aptly, however, Tim Cahill's second winner in two consecutive away
performances kept the focus where it belongs: on the remarkable
collective will and energy that has confirmed the opening day drubbing
by Arsenal was an exception and not the norm many had feared.
"We have never had egos in this squad," said Moyes afterwards, surely
the Premiership's manager of the month for September. "I have got real
good players and they know the best way for them to get results for
So many in this squad are at the top of their game just now and if we
can keep that going then who knows what will happen?"
Certainly no-one expected this to happen, and with home games in store
against Tottenham, Southampton and Aston Villa next month there is no
obvious puncture on the horizon.
But Everton have not got to third by getting ideas above their
station, only a determination to fight for every point and prove the
doubt-ers wrong, and the one-game-at-a-time cliché that could have
been scripted for this team must remain their instruction.
Nigel Martyn has not conceded a goal in over seven and a half hours of
football, a statistic that highlights the defensive resilience that
has underpinned the successes of the last six games.
And while statistics can be manipulated to support any argument, two
stand out to underline just how impressive this season's
transformation has been.
When Everton won at Fratton Park on December 13 last year it was only
their fourth league win of the entire campaign, giving them a total of
17 points. With...