For Tim Howard, this Everton season is as exciting as it is unprecedented. If Everton win their last seven games they will be playing Champions League football next season. That would be a remarkable achievement – Roberto Martinez suggested it would be a “football miracle” – and the goalkeeper is relishing the prospect.
The most important match of Everton’s season, or that they have played for some time, is this Sunday, when they welcome Arsenal, currently fourth, to Goodison Park. If Everton win they will be a point behind them with superior goal difference and a game in hand.
“We are looking forward to it,” Howard said, and understandably so. “Football is crazy. Two weeks ago, we were thinking: ‘Can we catch Tottenham?’ Now we are asking ourselves if we can catch Arsenal.”
The last time Everton played Arsenal was in an FA Cup quarter-final at the Emirates, which Arsenal won 4-1. Subsequent results have suggested that was not a fair reflection of the difference between the sides and Howard would love to make amends this weekend.
“We still have a sour taste in our mouths from what happened at the Emirates,” he said. “We will try and put that right at home. I don’t think we showed well down there and not only do we want to get the right result, we want to put on a performance at home.”
Everton’s run-in is not easy but they have momentum and that can make the difference. Howard agreed that no opponent is beyond their reach and they are doing better than they often do at this stage, with a well-managed squad finding new ways of winning games. On Sunday, Roberto Martinez threw on Steven Naismith, Aiden McGeady and Kevin Mirallas. “It is incredible, Howard said. “We have been in situations over the last five years where a team brings on another red-hot player and you’re the ones thinking: ‘Holy Cow.’ But now, we have the ability to do that.”