Despite the defeat to Liverpool do Everton have plenty to smile about?
By Joe Harker
Losing a derby against your fiercest rivals is a galling experience, particularly when you can look back on the game and think you might have deservedly won it. Everton were beaten by Liverpool when a last minute freak goal was scored by Divock Origi, with Toffees keeper Jordan Pickford's attempt to tip the ball over his bar instead lead to it falling into the path of the Liverpool striker.
The result was greeted with much celebration by Liverpool, particularly manager Jurgen Klopp whose celebrations were so ecstatic that he is facing a misconduct charge from the FA for running onto the pitch.
For Everton it was the stinging pain of defeat in a derby game where they matched Liverpool in terms of performance and had their own chances to score. Andre Gomes had his shot blocked on the line by Joe Gomez, while Yerry Mina headed wide when presented with a clear chance in the box. This was a game Everton came so close to winning but they should take encouragement from the improvement in their performances that allowed them to go toe to toe with their rivals when they have previously needed to play defensively.
The long term goal for the Toffees is to establish themselves as a powerful side in the Premier League, perhaps with a view to breaking into the "top six" group that consistently qualifies for the European club competitions and challenges for trophies. They have spent much money to get where they are now and likely plan to spend much more, though the same could be said for most other clubs in the league.
The club need a good squad, a manager who knows how to get the best out of them and to close the gap in quality between themselves and the mega rich clubs that dominate the Premier League. They currently seem to have the first two and are looking as though they are succeeding with the third objective.
Much of this can be attributed to the work done by manager Marco Silva, who Everton tried to approach when they sacked Koeman. That first approach didn't work but they knew he was the man for the job, successfully landing their man on the second go. The team's performances this season would appear to suggest they made the right managerial choice. The Toffees are currently sixth in the league and playing good football, even managing to nullify some of the top six teams such as Chelsea.
However, some believe things are not as good as they seem. Pundit Richard Keys believes the team were better off under Sam Allardyce, Silva's predecessor in the manager's chair. Keys pointed towards Everton's 1-1 draw last season with Liverpool as evidence that things were better with Allardyce, since they lost the same fixture with Silva in charge. He asked which manager's methods were proven right by results.
Despite this it seems that Everton are on track for improvement under Silva and as long as they continue to progress wisely they will solidify their position as the best Premier League team outside the "top six" sides, perhaps even being able to usurp one of them during a particularly poor season. They may have lost the derby against Liverpool but Everton fans have much to console themselves with.