Everton manager Roberto Martinez has admitted that being involved in continental competition can shift focus away from important domestic matters.
Martinez explained to the Liverpool Echo: “You don’t just need to prepare for the Europa League now, you think about it when you are assembling your squad, making the signings and looking at the physical outputs in training.
“We benefited from that experience, and we want to be involved in Europe again.
“But I think doing it in stages is beneficial.
“The league games now in the first half of the season mean a lot more than they did last season, which is only natural. When you are in Europe, the reality is that it takes some focus away from the league fixtures.”
Martinez often spoke about the benefits last season's European campaign had on his side, as they were knocked out of the competition at the last-16 stage by eventual finalists Dnipro, but the contrast in their league form this term is clear for all to see. Rarely last season did we see the Everton whose swashbuckling style managed to get a Premier League record points total for the club in 2013/14 - challenging for a Champions League place in the process.
The weekend's win over Chelsea showed that they have a lot of quality about them, and was reminiscent of a couple of seasons ago, as was the win against Southampton on the second weekend of the season - so it wouldn't be unreasonable to think that Everton can finish higher this term than the 11th place they finished last season.
Fresher players and getting to work for a whole week on upcoming opponents certainly seems to be an environment in which Martinez has got the best out of his sides in the past, and he has that opportunity again this time around.