It’s difficult to believe that the 2014/15 Premier League season has already reached its halfway point, as it seems like only last week that Everton kicked off their campaign with a disappointing draw away to Premier League newcomers Leicester City.
It’s been a season marred by inconsistency so far for Roberto Martinez and his first team squad, with a so-far successful Europa League campaign balanced out by disconcerting form on home soil, both in the league and the League Cup, which the Blues exited after just one round of fixtures in September.
With Sunday’s defeat to Newcastle United ensuring that the halfway stage of this season has been reached, and with the New Year just around the corner, the last few days of 2014 present an opportune time to look over the form of both Martinez and his first team players, starting with the Blues’ goalkeepers and defenders:
Tim Howard: The American was lauded for his displays at this summer’s World Cup, particularly in the round of 16 match against Belgium, but the 34 year old has struggled for form for the Toffees thus far in the league. With only three clean sheets to his name and a save percentage of 55.6%, the worst save percentage in the league concerning each club’s first choice goalkeeper, Howard will know he needs to improve once he returns from a six week layoff with a calf injury. Rating: 5/10
Joel Robles: Everton’s number two goalkeeper has struggled to displace Tim Howard in between the goal posts, despite the American’s erratic form, but the Spaniard has the opportunity to stake his claim for a regular first team berth following the injury to Howard. Could be a make or break period for the young keeper. Rating: 5/10
Tony Hibbert: The veteran’s season has once again been plagued by injury but, in the matches the 33 year old has played a part in, he has not put a foot wrong. Experience will be vital to help Everton climb the table. Rating: 6/10
Seamus Coleman: The Republic of Ireland international has not performed at his best this season, compared to the normally high standards that is expected of him, but the 26 year old has weighed in with three goals and two assists this season, and his marauding runs down the right have continued to cause problems for opposition defences. Rating: 6/10
Tyias Browning: The young defender has only appeared briefly for the Blues’s first team, but it was his run and cross that contributed to the Toffees recording a draw against Liverpool in the Merseyside derby in September. Definitely more to come in 2015 from the 20 year old. Rating: 5/10
Sylvain Distin: The Frenchman has struggled for form throughout the season and, with a rumoured fallout between the 36 year old and Martinez following the League Cup exit to Swansea City, was apparently exiled from the squad for a few matches. Since returning to the starting lineup, Distin still looks shaky and it would not be surprising if this is his last season as a regular in the Blues’ starting lineup. Rating: 4/10
Phil Jagielka: The Toffees club captain made a shaky start to the current campaign following his exploits at a disastrous World Cup for England but, following an exquisite equaliser in the Merseyside derby at Anfield in late September, the 32 year old turned a corner and helped the Blues concede just one goal in five matches between mid-October and early November. A steadying influence at the back who can consider himself unlucky to be part of such a miserable run of form. Rating: 6/10
John Stones: The young centre back has played reasonably well for the Toffees, despite the number of goals conceded during his inclusion in the starting eleven, and the 20 year old was looking to be hitting top form before injuring his ankle in the defeat to Manchester United back in October. Looking more and more likely to be starting alongside Jagielka as Martinez’s centre back pairing for 2015. Rating: 5/10
Antolin Alcaraz: The Paraguayan was part of the side that helped Everton concede just one goal in five matches before a dislocated shoulder curtailed a promising partnership alongside Phil Jagielka. Since returning the 32 year old has not played particularly badly on a personal level, but has still been a part of the Everton side that has lost the last three matches. Rating: 5/10
Leighton Baines: The full back may not have been as defensively sound as recent seasons, but he has certainly found his feet going forward once more. The left back weighed in with a staggering eight assists and two goals in the opening two months of the season and, whilst the goals and assists have dried up in recent weeks, the 30 year old has always looked to try and create opportunities for his team mates when possible. An early season shining light who will find form again. Rating: 7/10
Bryan Oviedo: The Costa Rican has been hampered by the horrendous leg break he suffered almost twelve months ago, which has restricted him to just three appearances this season. The 25 year old has looked bright in those matches, however, and could play an important role for the Blues during a campaign blighted by a lengthy injury list. Rating: 5/10
Luke Garbutt: The 21 year old has played his way into Martinez’s first team plans in recent weeks due to the extent of Everton’s injury list but, apart from a lack of experience at the top level, the left back has looked bright on the ball and has a vicious set piece delivery. One to watch in 2015. Rating: 6/10
Part 2, concerning Everton’s midfielders, forwards and strikers will be available tomorrow.