Beating Contenders


In a week that wasn't exactly a highpoint for management in England, Everton's David Moyes bucked the trend.  After his club beat Chelsea 2-0, he took that opportunity to talk about what he believed was the potential for his squad to be even better.  These weren't empty words.  Moyes knows he's managing a 10th-place club that since the last day of January has managed to beat two title contenders.  The Premier League trophy might not run through Everton, but showing they can compete with and beat these teams sends a very clear statement.  For Moyes, it's that they can be better than 10th-place.

That's a laudable goal that's realistic.  Everton spent in the transfer window, they've gotten value out of Landon Donovan's short term loan, and they've demonstrated that they can disrupt the teams in the top five.  They're certainly not a club the rest of the Premier League should look forward to playing, in itself an accomplishment. 

Clint Dempsey and Fulham are in a similar position two places and three points behind Everton.  Their shock result came against Arsenal the day after New Year's, and they'd already drawn with Chelsea the day after Christmas.  Though they lost 3-0 to Manchester City at the Emirates, it's worth remembering their earlier meeting ended in a tie.  So did their first time around with Arsenal, giving us another team that has shown they can compete with the top five clubs even with that lopsided home loss to Manchester United.

Though it's hard to play up the role of spoiler at any point prior to the last few weeks of the Premier League season, there's that aspect as well.  Frankly, that doesn't flatter either Everton or Fulham.  It's not about spoiling a better team's season.  It's about taking points where you find them especially when that means having to ignore the quality in the other team's squad.

Playing to your own team's strengths and letting the results fall is hard at any level.  At Premier League level, it can send a decidedly mixed message.  Clubs that can compete with the top five should be able to get results against teams that can't.  It doesn't always play out that way, which adds to the impact of Moyes's statement.  To use his own phrase, "the strange thing is" he's right. 

Corner Rating: (with 1 treating these upsets as flukes and 11 pushing Everton and Fulham as potentially challenging for a European place) 8.5

Last Week's Corner: Well, we may not have literally sent a congratulations card to the club, but we got a response via twitter from DC United's communications office.  Again, using an opportunity that presents itself is a win for the club and by extension the League.  If local advertising is available on Fox's national Premier League broadcasts, MLS teams should be buying it.  Corner rating stays at 10.

4 Responses to Beating Contenders

  1. Justin Shaffer says:

    Everton can be even better? I wonder if Moyes is considering Everton minus Donovan in that scenario. Donovan’s often looked like the best offensive player on the pitch for Everton, racking up assist after assist. He’s also played well on defense, tracking end line to end line. I’m not sure who they have that can replace his skillset when the loan is over.

  2. Eric says:

    Maybe he was just being polite, but Donovan has said the same thing. He said Everton was better than they’ve been playing and should be higher up the table. I assume he meant regardless of whether or not he was with them.

  3. Lee says:

    I think 8.5 is about right. Nobody should’ve expected the lack of production from their forwards and they addressed that with Jelavic. Even without Donovan they should be better than they were in the fall. Combine that with other teams fading, and top 10 isn’t out of the question.

  4. Simon says:

    I think Moyes could end up looking for a job if he’s not right. Everton fans are happier now than they were in December, but not by much.