Everton go into their next match in the knowledge that victory could see them rise as high as second in the Premier League.
Their opponents, Fulham, are looking to become the first team to win at Goodison Park this season and the first to get the better of the Toffees in nine Premier League games.
Roberto Martinez has dragged Everton into an exciting new era, and it’s about time they were taken as serious contenders for the top four.
Their swashbuckling style has evolved quickly under Martinez, who has replaced the cautious, solid approach of David Moyes with something more exciting, something more energetic. These days they are less about being physical and tough to beat than they are about being an expressive – and improving – footballing side.
It’s all thanks to a relentless tempo and an energy, elegance and fearlessness to their play that is reminiscent of Arsenal, the side they held to a well-earned draw last week. Indeed, this is the first opportunity Martinez has had in his management career to show what he can do with a decent sized budget, and so far he’s not disappointed.
And it’s no surprise when you look at their team. The Prince of Merseyside, Ross Barkley, has everything in his locker to eventually dethrone the King, Steven Gerrard, as he continues to fulfil his potential under Martinez. But Barkley is not alone. Romelu Lukaku and Leighton Baines are among the best players in Europe in their position and the past few weeks has seen the emergence of Gerard Deulofeu, the 19-year-old sensation on loan from Barcelona.
Style doesn’t win you anything, but it can certainly wins hearts, and after a decade of solid but ultimately fruitless years under Moyes, Everton fans are savouring the break with tradition. But is it a break with tradition? Everton are traditionally one of English football’s most celebrated clubs. A rich history of great players and great times, but no silverware since the mid 90s. They can’t go on without winning anything forever, but even if they do, at least they will have put on a show.
Like Tottenham under Harry Redknapp, there seems to be an obligation to entertain. The desire to score five if they concede four. That’s not to say they are not solid – Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and Tim Howard will be the first to tell you that Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea have been unable to score against them this season. But the need to attack now outweighs the need to hold back. It’s a breath of fresh air.
As David Moyes struggles to handle life after Everton, Martinez is relishing the role the Scot vacated. Last week saw them earn a 1-1 draw at the Emirates Stadium and a famous 1-0 win at Old Trafford. It’s not just that they are in a rich vein of form, but they are producing these performances week in, week out. An even more remarkable feat given that star man Marouane Fellaini was sold in the summer and replaced with Gareth Barry. Who, for the record, has been a key man under Martinez.
Martinez would be wise to add to his thin squad in January, providing cover in attacking midfield and central defence, but it seems he needs no advice.
He’s building a fresh new team in his own image, while his predecessor struggles on. Maybe in a couple of years Manchester United - and for that matter Liverpool - may realise they hired the wrong man.
Everton are 7.00 to beat Fulham 2-0 this weekend – check all the match odds here.
Read more from Michael Da Silva here.