Can Everton quietly claim a Champions League place and the FA Cup?

Whilst recent results have not been great for Everton, it would be unwise to count them out of the Champions League race, and they might even add the FA Cup to a fine season in the Premier League.

Considering they sit only six points of a Champions League place, and have home games against Oldham and Wigan standing between them and a place in the semi-finals of the FA Cup, it is a little surprising how little attention Everton have garnered in recent weeks. Indeed most of the speculation around the club has been related to whether David Moyes will move on in the summer, rather the fantastic season they have put together on the pitch.

There seems to be a general assumption that Everton won't figure in the final shake up for the Champions League places in the league, with their recent form suggesting they could run out of steam. It is true to say that they have been poor in their past few matches, with a lack of goals proving a real issue for the side. Nikica Jelavic has not gotten close to replicating the form he produced at this stage last season, and the injury prone Victor Anichebe is not the man you would want to hang Champions League hopes on.

However they still have a very strong team, with players like Fellaini, Pienaar and Mirallas able to contribute goals from midfield, with an imposing defence behind them. In every game they play, Everton give themselves a chance, and if they could find a clinical edge from somewhere they could still figure in the race for fourth.

Their next two matches are against Norwich and Reading, before they face a tricky run where they will play all three of Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, and Manchester City in four matches. As such, the next two games are vital to the team picking up some form and momentum before they play their rivals at the top of the table. With Arsenal and Tottenham playing each other at White Hart Lane next weekend, Everton will make up ground on one or both of them if they can beat Reading.

If they win their next two, they will certainly be in the race for fourth, and they could also find themselves in an FA Cup semi-final with two good home performances. There might be some pessimism around Goodison Park after a quiet January and some bad results, but with the players and the manager they have, ruling them out of either competition would be unwise.

images: © isirya, © isirya

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