By James Kinsella

Friday night’s draw with Crystal Palace has put Everton into third place in the Premier League and after a strong start to the season it is no less than they deserve.

Ronald Koeman is surely destined for great things and will no doubt one day acquire the role he so desires – the Camp Nou hotseat.

New to Everton, the former Southampton trainer seems to have already shored up a leaky defence and instilled a solidness in the Toffees that just was not there under Roberto Martinez.

Koeman has kept Everton in the black by making money in the transfer market and also managed to keep hold of Belgian goalscorer Romelu Lukaku, despite most believing he would leave Goodison Park in the summer.

Since scoring his first goal in the Premier League only Sergio Aguero has outscored the Everton star in the competition – the Merseysiders are reliant on his goals but, when fit, he rarely lets you down.

Ashley Williams was a shrewd purchase and along with Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori the Toffees do not look like they are missing John Stones too much.

The sale of the England international allowed Everton to splash out on Yannick Bolasie, who has impressed so far and if he can add substance to the style he showed at Crystal Palace there won’t be too many baulking at the price tag come the end of the season.

The Merseyside team now have depth in the squad in most positions with players on the bench genuinely pushing for starting positions and Koeman having options in both systems and personnel.

So, can they make the top four?

Probably not this year. Last night was a game that most teams in that race would expect to win – especially having dominated for the first half hour and going 1-0 up.

The equaliser was a good goal and Palace will feel aggrieved a potential winner was chalked off and although this was probably the right decision it could easily have gone the other way and Alan Pardew’s men could have walked away with all three points.

Another problem for the Goodison Park outfit is that their creative players are fairly inconsistent.

On their day each one of them is unplayable – unfortunately one or two special displays is usually followed by a few abject performances; this is especially true of Kevin Mirallas and Gerard Deulofeu. Palace fans will say the same of Bolasie.

Finally, the competition is probably just a tad too strong for them to overturn – whilst they should certainly be in the top eight and pushing for a Europa League place, the Champions League is likely to be just out of reach.

If they can stave away interest in Ronald Koeman though then they will surely become genuine top-four contenders in the very near future.


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