As part of our continuing effort to talk to find a fanbase that is even more miserable than our own, I sat down with Calvin from Royal Blue Mersey to talk about the upcoming Everton match. Unfortunately, the Everton fan base seems to be pretty reasonable and well-adjusted. Our search must go on. In the meantime, though, here's what our Q&A unearthed.
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Cartilage Free Captain: Everton looked like they made a big leap forward in their first season under Martinez. This season has started a bit disappointingly though. Where do you expect things to go from here?
Royal Blue Mersey: They've got to get better, really. A solid preseason coupled with a limited squad with no European adventures last season meant the squad settled in well with the new gaffer's philosophy. This season has been a bit of a different challenge, first with a mediocre set of offseason friendlies, and then with injuries and the Europa League acting as disruptive elements, this is not the start to the season we wanted.
We're done with just under one-thirds of the season and we've yet to find the consistency we need which is disappointing, considering how average the competition has been in the Premier League, Chelsea aside. The Champions Leagues spots are just there for the taking - the fourth-placed team in the League had 19 points after twelve games, the lowest in the English top-flight since 1981-82 when the rules were changed to three points for a win. There has never been a better year to get a free ticket to Europe than this season!
CFC: The Europa league sure is fun, huh?
RBM: I think the fans who've been seeing Europe following the team around have had the most fun of everyone. Everton were lucky to draw French, German and Russian teams in their group, which has mostly protected the side from travel to the frozen tundra or other obscure locations.
CFC: Seriously though, Sunday matches and continental hangovers are the worst. Does Everton have a big enough squad to make a deep run into Europa?
RBM: Yes and no. Martinez has decided the Europa will not be just an extra-curricular footnote to this season. As a result he's made sure the side is ready to play on Thursdays, and his squad selection has reflected that too. However, with Everton's limited squad depth, this means on Sunday we have some tired limbs and not enough quality off the bench to play well. After four Europa games so far, it's been one win, one draw and two losses in the Premier League, which is not enough for a top four spot.
It does look like the manager has decided that the Europa might be the ticket to the Champions League, which could backfire with the luck of the draw once the teams from the UCL drop down into the UEL.
CFC: Speaking of squad depth, injuries are killing Everton at the moment, with midfield and defense being particularly hard hit. How are the backups coping?
RBM: Decently enough I'd say. In defense, Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and John Stones are all starting caliber, so as long as Antolin Alcaraz doesn't have to play they should be fine. Youngster Luke Garbutt and veteran Tony Hibbert have been adequate filling in for Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines, but the attack loses a lot of intensity without the latter two fullbacks.
Everton have some solid depth in the middle with Darron Gibson and new signing Muhamed Besic, and they've both played well, though they remain a peg or two below Gareth Barry and James McCarthy who are both excellent. It's on the wings though where the Blues have not been themselves. Kevin Mirallas remains the only true threat out wide with a succession of players trying (and failing) to provide support on the opposite wing.
CFC: Last year saw the emergence of Ross Barkley and John Stones. Also, Seamus Coleman cemented his spot as one of the better right backs in the league. Who's the next young Everton player that's going to burst onto the scene?
RBM: The next star is going to come out of the defence again - Luke Garbutt and Tyias Browning are both defenders that have acquitted themselves very well for the youth teams and have represented England as well internationally. In the next couple of years, expect to hear more about midfielder John Lundstram and forwards Hallam Hope and Chris Long too.
CFC: If you were Mauricio Pochettino, how would you set up Spurs to best take advantage of any weaknesses that Everton might have?
RBM: I've long held that a couple of teams have always had Everton's number, and Spurs are one of them. Doesn't matter who's in charge, you've always found a way to beat the Toffees. If you would like to see how to take this Everton apart though, watch the last few times Crystal Palace have dismantled the Blues. Pressing the defence and midfield closely, coupled with hard running down the wings and getting crosses in deep is the way to cut Everton up.
CFC: Finally, how about a score prediction and which players, for either side, do you think are likely to have a good game.
Hard to see Everton coming away with three points from White Hart Lane, even though Spurs have multiple injury issues and a pretty woeful post-Europa record. Harry Kane has been in excellent form and I do expect him to be inspirational tomorrow too. Samuel Eto'o has been talismanic for Everton, and I can see him breaking Spurs hearts tomorrow with a late equalizer for a 1-1 scoreline.
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Thanks to Calvin for taking time to talk with us. You can follow him on Twitter here. You can also follow Royal Blue Mersey here for all your Everton news and opinions. They're really great. Also, you can head over there and read my answers to their questions.