Everton hammered struggling Sunderland 6-2 at Goodison Park in the early Premier League kick-off on Sunday, with Ivory Coast international striker Arouna Kone scoring a hat-trick. The game encapsulated the Toffees in one game.
Everton boss Roberto Martinez now has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to attacking options at present.
Forward options Steven Naismith and Aaron Lennon did not even make it off the Toffees bench against the Black Cats.
On their day Everton are so dangerous coming forward. Against a poor Sunderland defence Arouna Kone, Ross Barkley, Gerard Deulofeu and Romelu Lukaku had a field day.
The quartet can be outstanding, but they can also be frustrating to watch. Deulofeu has made a big impression since his permanent move from Barcelona in the summer. The youngster scored one goal and produced two assists against Sunderland.
The youngster is certainly a talent and has the potential to become a very good player, as long as he starts to mature and stops throwing himself on the floor.
In Deulofeu, Barkley and Lukaku the Toffees have young players that most clubs would be glad to have in their team. All three have bags of potential and talent. However, all threes decision making can improve. On form all three youngsters are exciting and match-winners.
A player who is at the opposite end of his career is Arouna Kone, who has found himself a new lease of life on the left-wing for Martinez’s side. The Ivorian is finally getting the bit of luck he needed to forge a career at Everton.
Some Toffees fans questioned his signing and an unfortunate injury disrupted the first season of his Everton career. He made just five appearances in his debut campaign on Merseyside.
Last season he made 19 appearances in all competitions, but struggled to get in the team ahead of club-record signing Romelu Lukaku up front. However a move of position has seen him see more first team action.
The striker is enjoying his football and linking up with Lukaku superbly this season. Everton fans are now seeing the Ivorian’s qualities and appreciate his football intelligence. Kone was the Toffees best player, above his more high-profile teammates Lukaku, Deulofeu and Barkley.
At Wigan Martinez’s teams always played good football, but they also conceded lots of goals, which in the end cost the Latic’s their top-flight status.
Everton under Martinez, apart from his debut season, have looked very shaky in defence. The absence of captain Phil Jagielka has also added to the shakiness of that backline.
The Toffees remaining centre-backs Ramiro Funes Mori and John Stones looked shaky against Sunderland. Stones made an error that lead to Black Cats first goal scored by Jermain Defoe, while Funes Mori was outmuscled by Steven Fletcher for the Black Cats second goal.
The shakiness of the Toffees defence is perfectly illustrated by the fact that ‘keeper Tim Howard had to make seven saves and the visitors had more shots on goal. No doubt Everton will remain shaky in defence, but Martinez needs to find a way of making his team more solid.
Luckily enough Everton have got attacking players capable of getting them out of jail with goals, but at times they will not, just like in their last three Premier League games prior to the Sunderland game.
Everton fans will believe that their squad is good enough to challenge for a place in the top-six of the Premier League. The Toffees have a squad full of promising and talented players, who on their day can give any team a game in the top-flight.
However, it will be very difficult for the Toffees to finish in the top-six, simply because of the competitive nature at the top of the league. There are a plethora of clubs eying up a spot in the top-six this season.
The Toffees are currently odds of 13/8 to finish the Premier League’s top-six this season, which is not impossible.
A top-six finish for Everton in the top-flight is not unrealistic for the Toffees. With a bit of luck and an improvement in defence, the side from Merseyside certainly has the quality to trouble the top-six this season.
Can Everton mount a top-six challenge this season?