The views in these blogs are those held by the individual blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of Everton Football Club.
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Phil Neville’s comments about how the FA Cup may be the best chance of qualification for the Europa League have prompted me to pause and consider how crucial the next few games are to the Club’s ambitions for the rest of the season and beyond.
Qualification for the Europa League is one of the marks of a successful season for Everton nowadays, and David Moyes would love to cap his tenth year with a successful end to the campaign in both league and cup.
Although the FA Cup may be the best chance of European action next season, qualification through the league should, in my opinion, still be on the agenda. Currently tenth in the league, Everton would have to finish between fifth and seventh in the league, depending on Liverpool’s league finish and the eventual winners of the FA Cup.
A steep hill to climb with only eleven games left, but with the current form of the team anything is possible. The wins over Manchester City and Chelsea highlight the ability of the players when they are on form.
The performances of Denis Stracqualursi and the return of Victor Anichebe have breathed new life into the team. With these renewed attacking options, we should be looking to finish each game with three points.
The additions to the squad over the January transfer window will be vitally important to the Club’s fortunes in the remainder of the campaign. The return of Steven Pienaar adds an extra means of attacking creativity and whilst Nikica Jelavic has barely featured as of yet, I believe that when he does we can expect goals. Also, the return from injury of the likes of Jack Rodwell and Leon Osman will make for an exciting end to the campaign.
The upcoming games will be crucial to the Club’s success for the rest of the season. After this weekend’s clash with QPR, Everton’s next league matches against Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal will very much dictate whether they can qualify for Europe through the league or not.
The FA Cup, however, is a priority for the team and the fans, and form in the league can be transferred to the Club’s cup fortunes and vice-versa. With Everton already through to the last eight, and with Manchester United, Manchester City and Chelsea already out of the competition, winning the cup is very much a possibility.
However, with the all-important upcoming sixth round game against Sunderland wedged between clashes with Liverpool and Arsenal, David Moyes will have to use his squad sensibly and efficiently. The FA Cup can be won, but this should not infringe on the Club’s league campaign for the rest of the season.
Everton are unbeaten in five league games and on a good run of form, but with hard fixtures on the horizon in the league and cup, the next few games will decide whether the FA Cup or the Premier League will be the main prospective route of entry to Europa League qualification.
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