Everton go into this weekend’s Merseyside derby full of confidence after a promising start to the season in contrast to that of previous years.
The Blues currently lie in 11th place in the Premier League, having played a game fewer than most sides.
Since a fortuitous win at Blackburn Rovers in mid-August, form has improved for David Moyes’ side.
A fantastic display in the 2-2 draw against Aston Villa put paid to any doubts that that the team had lost any of its team spirit after a depressing summer at Goodison Park.
Goals from Phil Jagielka and Leon Osman twice put the Toffees in front only to be thwarted by defensive mistakes that have worryingly crept into their play of late. Indeed, all that was missing from the performance against Villa was an elusive first home win in the league.
But that victory did come a week later against Wigan
Athletic, with new signings Royston Drenthe and
Denis Stracqualursi coming off the bench to make
an instant impact, combining superbly to round off
a 3-1 win, the former scoring his first goal for the club.
Perhaps overshadowing the new players at Goodison
has been the emergence of Greek teenager Apostolos
Vellios. The 19-year-old has become a hit with the
Everton crowd with his non-stop work-rate and goal
threat when making cameo appearances off the bench.
The striker opened his scoring account for the Blues
against Wigan, netting what would prove to be the
winner with a close-range header.
Another reason for Evertonians to be cheerful has been
their team's progress in the Carling Cup. Having beaten
Sheffield United in the second round, it took 120 minutes of football for the Blues to oust West Bromwich Albion to reach the last 16 of the competition, where a mouth-watering clash against Chelsea awaits them.
In their most recent outing, Everton put up a resilient fight against the riches of Manchester City, only to lose a tightly-fought match 2-0. Moyes was full of praise for his players for their effort during the defeat and will expect similar togetherness to be on full display against their bitter rivals this weekend.
By David Downie, Deputy Sports Editor
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New signings Stracqualursi and Drenthe have helped Everton make a solid season start (Pics © Trinity Mirror)
(Pics © Trinity Mirror)
© Trinity Mirror