February from hell as Everton’s next six Premier League games ought to define 2023/24 season

by   |   18/01/2024  0 Comments  [Jump to last]

A glimmer of hope emerged at the end of the tunnel as Andre Gomes' strike propelled Everton to a 1-0 victory against Crystal Palace in midweek FA Cup action. 

In times of havoc and uncertainty emanating from another ominous-looking point deduction for breaching FFP rules, a spirited win at Goodison Park repaired the mood in the blue part of Merseyside.

Desperate Everton fans watching the game via football streams could've seen an unparalleled commitment from Sean Dyche's side bidding to defy heartbreaking circumstances. 

Now standing between the Toffees and their third FA Cup quarter-final appearance in four campaigns are Premier League newcomers Luton Town.

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However, going the distance in football's oldest cup competition will unlikely soften the blow the new punishment threatens to inflict on the nine-time English champions.

Everton have gone to great lengths to make November's ten-point deduction pale to insignificance and steer a point clear of 18th-placed Luton in the Premier League. 

Dyche's tremendous effort to keep his side afloat is now in danger as the Toffees gear up for their final warm-up game ahead of their top-flight return on January 30.

Without further ado, let's look at Everton's six upcoming fixtures that could shape up a troublesome 2023/24 season plagued by off-field turmoil and takeover saga.

Fulham (A) – Tuesday, January 30

Everton would've travelled to Craven Cottage as mid-table tenants, three points clear of 13th-placed Fulham, had they not been docked ten points in late 2023.

However, the Cottagers have been a thorn in the Toffees' side over the years, racking up three wins in their last four Premier League encounters (D1). 

As if a 1-0 defeat at Goodison on the opening 2023/24 weekend wasn't frustrating enough, Marco Silva's side dispatched Everton from the League Cup quarter-finals via penalties in December. 

Considering the quality of other opponents waiting in the wings, Everton must defy their 'Fulham hoodoo' and take points in London to bolster their hopes of ensuring top-flight survival. 

Tottenham Hotspur (H) – Saturday, February 3

Back to Goodison after an uneventful scoreless draw against surprising title candidates Aston Villa, Everton face another stern challenge in the form of Tottenham Hotspur.

Despite being forced to combat a severe injury crisis for most of the season, Ange Postecoglou keeps Spurs in the title frame, only five points adrift of pacesetters Liverpool.

Taking such a significant scalp would be huge for the Toffees, but it's worth noting they last tasted success in this match-up in the Premier League four years ago.

Since a 1-0 win in London in September 2020, they've gone winless in six consecutive league games against Tottenham (D3, L3).

Manchester City (A) – Saturday, February 10

Damage limitation will likely be at the forefront of Dyche's mind when Everton touch down at the Etihad Stadium to lock horns with perennial champions Manchester City.

The Toffees felt City's wrath in the reverse fixture in December, succumbing to a 3-1 defeat on home turf despite taking the lead at half-time.

It marked their 11 loss in their last 12 Premier League clashes against Pep Guardiola's treble-winners, highlighting the size of the task awaiting Dyche's troops in early February.

Crystal Palace (H) – Monday, February 19

Palace's arrival at Goodison looks like child's play compared to Everton's other assignments in February, especially considering the psychological advantage the Toffees have after the abovementioned FA Cup triumph.

Gomes' match-winner inspired the Merseyside outfit to a fourth win in their last six games against Roy Hodgson's team in all competitions (D2), with four seeing Everton keep a clean sheet. 

With the Toffees having Palace's number, anything other than three points in this showdown could be considered a disappointment.

Brighton & Hove Albion (A) – Saturday, February 24

Regardless of Brighton's topsy-turvy campaign, the Amex Stadium is never a place for relegation-battling teams to seek points. 

But Everton's recent track record against the Seagulls inspires confidence.

Ashley Young's unfortunate late own goal denied the Toffees three points in a gut-wrenching 1-1 draw in the reverse fixture and a chance to beat Roberto De Zerbi's side for the second time on the trot.

Yet, back-to-back league victories via multi-goal margins in East Sussex suggest the Toffees may not return home empty-handed.

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