Could Mirallas miracles help Everton Edge out two of the London giants for Champions League football?
Behind Manchester United and City in the Premier League, the other big name clubs find themselves scrapping it out for European football and primarily a top-four spot, which grants entry to the glamour of next season’s Champions League. A first glance at how things currently stand would have most people reckoning on two from three of the big London sides, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal joining the Manchester pair in the top four positions come the final day. Everton though, remain within touching distance and with games against both Arsenal and Chelsea still to come, have to an extent, their destiny in their own hands. While Spurs have just lost Gareth Bale for a couple of weeks, the Toffees by contrast, have an exciting player who may just be hitting top form at the right time.
Kevin Mirallas arrived at Goodison last summer amid what could be described as little more than modest optimism. £6 million isn’t really a figure that sets pulses racing these days in the transfer markets, although by Everton’s standards this could be described as David Moyes splashing the cash, if not maybe even getting a bit reckless. The player was signed on the back of a successful campaign in the Greek Super league with Olympiacos, where he scored 20 times. The problem was though that at that time Mirallas, then 24-years-old, had never come close to that sort of goal tally before, despite having several seasons in the French top flight under his belt. He has also only netted six times in over 30 international caps. Moyes however, rarely gets it wrong with his acquisitions and it seems he may now be placed to begin seeing a return on his investment having shunted the player to a wide attacking role.
Much has been said of the promise on the horizon for Belgian football and the current talented crop migrating from that small nation to Europe’s big leagues. Eden Hazard was the most high-profile acquisition in the summer and he has certainly made an impact. Jan Vertonghen has consistently impressed for Spurs and Mirallas has even been overshadowed by a fellow countryman at Everton thanks to the swashbuckling antics of Marouane Fellaini. The 25-year-old is now though beginning to revel in his role cutting in from the wing and is starting to look as dangerous as anyone in the league.
Early in the season the Belgian showed promise but injuries soon hampered his debut campaign. His comeback stuttered and he impressed only with a cameo here and a dribble there. The last few weeks however have seen him threaten defences consistently and produce two stunning individual goals against Stoke and Spurs.
Granted the Standard Liege youth graduate did land on Merseyside with a poor goal-scoring pedigree but the Greek goal haul and his exploits in the last fortnight suggest he can finish. Despite this it could be that if Moyes continues to deploy him wide he may get the best results. The 25-year-old boasts pace, excellent close control and has the look of a player who can threaten defenders when cutting inside to run at the backline. He also gives Everton a nice balance with his skill on the right to compliment the link- up between Baines and Pienaar on the left. Getting the ball wide to Mirallas could well be another option Everton can deploy when searching for a breakthrough, an alternative to hoisting the ball onto the chest of Fellaini.
Moyes’ men are certainly outsiders for a Champions League berth as they currently trail fourth-placed Tottenham by six points, albeit with a game in hand. They are also though, perennial over-achievers who have finished strongly in recent years and if Mirallas can continue his sparkling form they should not be counted out. A surprise win in their next away fixture at the Emirates would blow the race for the Champions League wide open.