The impressive level of consistency shown by Everton over the past few months has set them well on their way to European qualification for the third season in a row.
Couple that with Aston Villa’s sorry slump and there is now just one point between the two sides after 32 games played, meaning a second consecutive fifth place finish is now looking like a good bet for David Moyes’ men. But it will only be the UEFA Europa League next season for the Toffees, not the cash rich Champions League a fourth placed finish would bring.
They are, of course, the only side since Newcastle in 2003 to break the big four’s stranglehold on the Champions League positions. Since that miraculous achievement in 2005 (given they had finished 17th the previous year) the gap between the ‘big four’ and the rest is perhaps now even greater, and it will take a massive effort for Everton to break that monopoly again.
Having said that, effort is never something you will find in short supply at Goodison Park. Everton are one of the most hard-working and organised sides in the Premier League.
Moyes gained much of his early success at the club through this work ethic, but has since embedded more and more skilful players into the team - players like Marouane Fellaini, Mikel Arteta, Tim Cahill, as their rise up the Premier League over the past five years has shown.
The only thing holding the Blues back now is numbers, or lack of them to be precise. Everton haven’t got the budget of nearly half the teams in the Premier League and are regularly outspent by rivals who consistently finish below them in the table.
Don’t forget they started this season with barely 11 fit senior pros. The fact they have established themselves yet again in the top six shows what may have been achieved had they started the season with more players.
If they could break into the top four again it would certainly shake things up at the summit. The big four are in a comfort zone at the moment and it would be interesting to see what would happen if their cushy, Champions League carpet was pulled away from underneath them.
Moyes has achieved so much with Everton with so little money, so it is scary to comprehend what he could do with even a small investment.
It would only take a few extra players - one of this side’s strengths is the unity created by having a small squad - but an extra quality player in each position and Everton could be there. Everything else is in place.