Sometimes in football, all a team needs is a break. The just need a little time away to recharge the batteries and sort out their problems. Everton are showing signs of being the latest beneficiaries.
Before taking on Cardiff in midweek, Everton had gone 17 days without a game. It appears to have done them a world of good.
Before the trip to Wales, the Blues were on a run of three straight defeats. They’d managed two wins in six league games, losing the others. Sandwiched between was a FA Cup exit at Millwall.
Extend it further, and Everton were on a disastrous run of form. Since the 5-1 win over Burnley on Boxing Day they’d lost six of their last eight league games. Even worse, their performances were looking jaded.
Like Watford last year, Marco Silva’s side appeared to have lost all momentum. Nothing was going their way, and the football they were playing could be best described as lifeless. Their 17-day break seems to have fixed those issues.
Silva insisted that Everton had not made significant changes during the break, claiming they had done the same things and worked on fitness. Their performances this week suggest that he was not truthful.
At Cardiff, the Blues were solid if uninspiring. They held the Bluebirds at arm’s length and dealt with the physicality of Neill Warnock’s side superbly. At the other end, they were ruthless when the chances came their way. Gylfi Sigurdsson, in particular, looked back to his best.
They then continued that in the Merseyside derby on Sunday. Make no mistake, this was a game that Liverpool were expected to win. Anyone who watched the game will agree that the Reds deserved all three points. They had the lions share of the possession and the better chances by far.
Yet, at the same time, Everton did not deserve to lose. There were impressive performances all over the pitch.
Jordan Pickford made up for his Anfield horror show. Michael Keane was reliable at the back, putting in a commanding display at the heart of the defence. Up front, Dominic Calvert-Lewin put in a dominant and resolute display up against Virgil Van Dijk.
It was not a pretty display from Everton by any means, but it was one full of spirit and desire. That was the case in the game against Cardiff also. Those two things have been sorely missing from this side this season.
Four points from a tough away game and a Merseyside derby is a positive. This week has been a good one for the Blues. The trick is to carry these performances into the end of the season now.
With nine games to go, they have plenty to play for. Seventh place is up for grabs. That 17-day break could just end up turning their season around. Everton are finally showing signs of life after a dismal winter period.