Despite enjoying over 65 per cent of the possession in their Premier League home date with Swansea City on Saturday, and firing in 11 shots on goal, Everton were left to reflect on a 0-0 draw at the final whistle.
Samuel Eto’o, Ross Barkley, Steven Naismith and Aiden McGeady all started at Goodison Park, while £28 million man Romelu Lukaku was introduced off the bench, but Roberto Martinez still saw his side draw a blank.
In fairness to the hosts, Swansea came to contain and stifle, happy to head back to South Wales with a share of the spoils.
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Their approach left Everton frustrated, but they are now unbeaten in three – having collected seven points from a possible nine – and United States international goalkeeper Tim Howard believes there is cause for optimism as a top-four challenge is slowly but surely pieced together.
He said in the Liverpool Echo: “It was a frustrating game for both sides. We kept a clean sheet against a tough opponent and we tried, but it keeps us on our unbeaten run.
“We’re doing well and we’ve got two big games this week. We’re not too disappointed - it was a tough draw and if you’re getting a draw, you want it to be 0-0.
“We’re not a team that doesn’t score many goals. We’re always knocking on the door and creating chances - I think our record shows that. It was just one of those days, but we’re encouraged by how much ball retention we had, particularly in the final third. On most days, you win those games.
“We like to score lots of goals but we kept a clean sheet, which is a positive and a draw at home keeps us going.
“We are playing well. We are in the middle of a pretty good run. Of course we would have liked to have won but we have got two other big games this week and this keeps us ticking over, and keeps us unbeaten in a few games.”
Everton now face a tricky run through to the end of the month, with a home clash with Lille next up on Thursday as further progress is sought in the Europa League.
A trip to Sunderland then awaits on Sunday, with Martinez hoping continental competition will not sap important energy.
Premier League meetings with West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur sandwich another Europa League outing against Wolfsburg following the international break, with it vital that Everton negotiate the next few weeks with care if they are to put themselves in contention for Champions League qualification domestically and extend their current European adventure into the New Year.