Oct 112014

Earlier in the season the considered opinion was that Everton FC were conceding goals they might not have conceded last season.

Suggestions were that there was an uncharacteristic uncertainty in our defending.

And whilst we still conceded goals at Anfield and Old Trafford, there have been signs of improvement to go with the clean sheet at The Hawthorns and Tim Howard’s heroics against Wolfsburg.

John Stones was continuing to make rapid strides towards becoming an accomplished Premier League footballer and was looking increasingly at home in the heart of the defence.

And I think there have also been signs that Phil Jagielka has returned to form and sharpness.

I don’t think it was a case of Jagielka returning home tired from the World Cup, but rather that he kicked off the season behind in his training.

Roberto Martinez, rightly or wrongly, called it that way in a bid to avoid fatigue and burnout later in the season.

But some players are better when they train and play and get into a groove and you can see that might have been the case with Jagielka.

Things were looking up defensively … until the injury to Stones. It’s undeniably a major blow. But we have men who can step straight back.

Whether Sylvain Distin thinks he has been dropped or rested is irrelevant.

He can show his professionalism now and get the chance to prove he can play at the level we know he can, because he will be needed.

That’s football.

Sometimes it’s all doom and gloom for one footballer, but one player’s misfortune is another’s opportunity. From John Stones’ point of view it’s really sad when any footballer gets injured, but especially a youngster. But over the course of a 15 year career he will look back on this absence as a blip.

But if that’s bad news, Ross Barkley is back in full training and will be soon be knocking on the door of the first team.

Hopefully he can now stay injury free for a while.

Just five points between 17th and sixth

Roberto Martinez Roberto Martinez

It’s been a case of one step forward and another step back for Everton in recent weeks.

Early season lapses late in games proved costly, whereas now the team is at least showing the resilience we have come to expect and is finishing games strongly.

But even the most ardent fan would find it difficult to argue that results have been reflected in that upturn in performances.

The Premier League table is starting to take some sort of recognisable shape, but it is still very early in the season.

While the numerical position looks alarming – 17th is just one place above the relegation zone – the reality is that Everton are still just five points behind sixth place and another Europa League qualification place.

And let’s not forget that we’ve faced Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United in our first sven matches of the campaign.

People may scoff at that last one, but I’ve said all along that it won’t take Louis van Gaal long to get United in the top four, which is the position they moved up to after beating us last Sunday.

It’s been an unforgving fixture list so far, and while I’m not suggesting that upcoming fixtures against Aston Villa, Burnley, Swansea, Sunderland and West Ham will be easy – especially with European commitments thrown into the mix – they do offer an opportunity to gather some points.

Over the course of 38 games it’s not all doom and gloom.

Wrexham need your support

Another international week is upon us, and I know Liverpool isn’t exactly a bastion of national pride.

You don’t see too many Liverpools amongst the Northamptons and Barnets in the middle of St George flags!

But if people are wondering what to do this afternoon there is a fantastic occasion going over on Glendwr University Racecourse Stadium where Wrexham are celebrating their 150th anniversary.

They are the third oldest professional club in the world and they will be playing big rivals Grimsby – two teams with a Football League pedigree trying to win back their league status.

There will be lots going on before the game, too, so if you need a football fix and want to watch a really competitive, exciting game of football just pop down to Wrexham.

The Conference stages some excellent football – and even though there will be a big crowd you can pay on the day to get in.

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