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Despite currently sitting 9th in the table, the last month in the life of Everton has been great.

Even at the start of this week I was looking at the 2 fixtures of Nuremburg and Chelsea away with some trepidation. A run of good results against, at best, average opposition was running headlong into what could have been a brick wall. We haven't faired too well this season against many decent sides. On the back of the win in Nuremburg, I was hopeful of putting up a fight at the Bridge, but little expected to take much from the game. And my feeling appeared to be vindicated when I saw that Drogba had bagged in the 70th.

This brings me to my 2 points; first of all, at any point up to now, would we have held out hope of a point against Chelsea with Arteta, Johnson and our best left-back out of the side? I for one would have to say no. I think that gives a fair indication of the improvement of the squad overall since the end of last season.

Second point is that we are on a great run and we all know in our blue hearts that there will be hiccups, that we can't perform to this level for a full season, even though I want to believe that we can. But we've got ourselves into that wonderful habit of going the full 90 + stoppage time and rescuing points when time seems to have run out on us. That breeds confidence, a never-say-die attitude and even if we suffer a few hiccups in the coming weeks, we will still have the belief that we can get something out of a game when it is slipping away from us.

Credit has to go to Moyes, despite a fairly bumpy start he has turned us into a side with a real winning mentality. I know it's only been short term and I'm trying not to get carried away, but it is really reminiscent of the 2004-05 season. And we have Johnson, Vaughan, Baines and (maybe) Gravesen to get back to match fitness and boost the squad.

We may well need that mentality, with one hell of a run of fixtures in December. Sunderland at home and Portsmouth away are winnable and less than 4 points would be disappointing. Then Zenit at home and the opportunity to keep our 100% record and tie up the UEFA group early (was anyone expecting that after 2005 and Metalist this year?) Then Fulham at home before a run of West Ham twice, Alkmaar then Man Utd all away in 11 days. I think it's safe to say that is going to be the acid test. If we can come through that period with a reasonable set of results, it's going to be a happy, happy Christmas and a New Year that all Blues will be looking forward to.

Keep it up boys and COYB!
Richard Parker, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia     Posted 12/11/2007 at 05:57:25

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Michael Kenrick
Only one thought:

chris briddon
1   Posted 12/11/2007 at 09:56:43

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A win over Zenit would be nice, then we could field a weaker team in Alkmaar given the hectic & difficult Christmas period shortly afterwards starting at Old Trafford
Ray Roche
2   Posted 12/11/2007 at 09:57:35

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I think its fair to say that in the one match at Stamford Bridge yesterday we saw Evertons goal of the season..Save of the season and..Goaline clearance of the season by Tony Hibbert.. It was that kind of game at Chelsea yesterday and all I can say is yes we rode our luck but its about time we had some fortune against one of the top four clubs especially away from home. There was nothing lucky about Cahills Brazillian like scissor kick and had that been scored by a media darling like Rooney or Gerrard we would never hear the last of it, but then again who cares what the media think?. Howards save from Lampard in the first half was unreal and its things like that and Hibberts clearance not to mention the performnce of Lescott and Yobo that keeps you in with a chance at places like Chelsea..Well done the Blues.
Syd Morton
3   Posted 12/11/2007 at 11:50:55

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Good reflection on the season so far. There’s no doubting the strength of the squad when established internationals are struggling to get into the team.

You mentioned Gravesen in the middle of your piece - he could be a key player when the fixture congestion kicks in over the winter. We need a player who can hold the ball and change things. I don’t know what’s up with him but if he can play one game in three then it takes pressure off Cahill and Arteta.

Things are definitely looking rosey.
David Barks
4   Posted 12/11/2007 at 16:11:05

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The game against Portsmouth away is a winnable fixture??? I guess you could say that but Portsmouth are very good this season, let’s be honest about that. This is not the same old bottom of the table Portsmouth team. They have some tremendous and quick strikers and a descent midfield. Harry has got them playing well this season and I wouldn’t overlook them. I think I would happily take a win over Sunderland and a draw against Portsmouth away. That would keep our unbeaten record going and keep Portsmouth from jumping too far ahead in the table. As for the UEFA Cup, it would be nice to get the top spot wrapped up before the final game to give some players a rest and give some of the others some game time. But as Michael said..........
Brian Garside
5   Posted 12/11/2007 at 23:11:04

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Once again unbridled optimism clouds reality. Portsmouth are perhaps the strongest home team in the league.
Zenit champions,suggests a form team.
Alkmaar will not be a pushover.Has any body seen how they pass the ball and move? Watch them on the web or even watch Eurogoals on Eurosport on a Monday evening / Tuesday afternoon.These will be two very tuff games I assure you.
We scraped through against Metalist because they were so inept at crossing hence lightweight in attack.
We have played the two weakest teams in the group. Zenit + Alkmaar will also win these matches so don´t count your chickens yet.
In anticipation.....................
Richard Parker
6   Posted 13/11/2007 at 06:02:42

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Brian - I think Chelsea may have something to say about being the strongest home team in the league. Portsmouth are hard to beat at home this season, yes, but they have only managed to beat a struggling Bolton, Leeds and Reading at home.... not exaclty formidable opposition! OK draws with Liverpool and Man Utd are decent results. Don’t see, on the back of our form, why this isn’t a winnable fixture?

I think that we can expect a tough game from Zenit, but again, why shouldn’t we view that as a winnable fixture? We’ve played 2 good sides in the last week and not lost. And bearing in mind the fact we only need a point to more or less qualify....

As I mentioned above, we have a very tough run coming up, but we have got ourselves into a very good position to attack that run. And I think that, realistically, we will quite probably lose a few before xmas. But I think the reality is that most of us will be disappointed if we haven’t sewn up the UEFA group and aren’t sitting within touching distance of the top 6 come xmas.

I don’t consider that unbridled optomism....
Brian Garside
7   Posted 13/11/2007 at 20:36:16

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Richard. If you look around this mailbag you will read just how tough the opposition has been for our last 6 games. Barring Chelsea, none can be called a form side. So did we scrape through against "formidable opposition". I think not. I actually flew over with my son and saw the Birmingham game made a great change from tv with foreign commentaters. Once again proved inept at killing off opponants whilst they squirm on the hook.
I reitrate. Don´t count your chickens.....
Brian Garside
8   Posted 13/11/2007 at 20:49:08

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Richard. Click on Everton in Europe. We feature in group 3.Our next opponants feature in groups 1 + 2. Our previous opponants feature in groups 4+5 respectivly. Now tell me, with a pinch of realism, after reading the facts in this and my previous mail that we will "sew up" the group.

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