After a convincing 3-0 win over Burnley in the Carabao Cup yesterday evening, Everton next host Brighton on Saturday afternoon as the Premier League returns.
So, following the victory against the Clarets and last Sunday’s one goal win at West Ham United, can the Blues complete a hat-trick this weekend?
It could be a really important step forward if Everton are able to win thee matches in a row for the first time in goodness knows how long and possibly represent conformation that this team has turned a corner.
Brighton are coming to Goodison Park on the back of two defeats and two draws in their last four Premier League games, so their current form is not great.
That recent slump in form though came after the Seagulls had started the campaign well, including notching impressive early-season wins against Newcastle and Manchester United.
The South Coast side are a high-scoring team under Roberto De-Zerbi with twenty-three goals netted so far. Only Arsenal, Liverpool, Newcastle and Aston Villa have more.
Six of Villa’s goals were scored in one game, against Brighton, when the Midlands side thrashed them at Villa Park. I very much doubt the Toffees will be able to match that number on Saturday!
As we all know Everton have struggled badly to score goals in this campaign, as they did last season and in the one before that too.
And home games have seen the worst of that problem with the Blues having only managed a paltry three goals at the Grand Old Lady in the league so far. All of them came in their home win against Bournemouth.
But while this Everton team under this manager are unlikely ever to be a high-scoring side, there have been real signs of genuine improvement recently in that department and others as well.
Since beating Brentford 3-1 on the 23rd of September, the Toffees have scored another ten goals in both league and Carabao Cup matches.
That is a very significant improvement on the first six matches of the season when Everton managed just four goals in total.
The return of Dominic Calvert-Lewin not just to fitness but to something like the absolute peak of physical condition, has been a crucial factor here.
He has netted three times in the Premier League himself, but it has been the all-round contribution and dynamism he brings to the number nine position that is key.
Sean Dyche should take a lot of credit here, as he stuck to his strategy of keeping Calvert-Lewin largely out of the side until he was sure the previously frail and injury-prone centre-forward was totally ready to return the fray.
Fingers crossed the ex-England international striker has now finally overcome these problems.
However, as well as the much more potent attacking threat the Blues now possess, the improvement in defence has been just as important to their recent upward curve.
In those first six games the Toffees conceded eleven times and the defence was looking decidedly vulnerable and porus.
Since then, Everton have only allowed six more goals in the last seven matches. And two of those, against Liverpool, probably woudn’t have been conceded at all had the referee not intervened on the Reds behalf in the recent derby.
One player who has been fundamental to this considerable tightening up at the back, is Jarrad Branthwaite.
Since coming into the side Branthwaite has been outstanding, belying his youth with consumate and mature displays at centre-back alongside the old war horse James Tarkowski.
I’ve already mentioned all the qualities he possesses and as I have stated I think he is as good a central defender as you will find in the Premier League.
In the last few matches though Vitalli Mykolenko has also stepped up superbly at left-back, shackling Mohamed Salah with relative ease at Anfield (and not many can say that) and then coping very well with West Ham’s forward threats too.
So, there has been a marked improvement at the back as well. And, Everton will need to defend again very strongly on Saturday.
Can they make it three wins in a row?
I obviously hope so, but this is a tough game against the tactically astute coach of a well-organised and very dynamic attacking team that has enjoyed some great wins away from home.
Everton though have a good memory of their own a superb and high-scoring performance when they thrashed their upcoming opponents 5-1 at the Amex Stadium late last season.
A repeat of that result would do very nicely!