Leighton Baines says current Everton side is 'as good as I have played in'
Monday 24 September 2012
Leighton Baines believes the current Everton side is the best he has played in.
The England left-back has played a part in the Goodison Park club's excellent start to the Barclays Premier League campaign, which continued with a superb performance in the 3-0 win at Swansea.
Goals from Victor Anichebe, Kevin Mirallas and Marouane Fellaini gave David Moyes' men the spoils and increased hopes among the Toffees' faithful that they may be capable of challenging for Champions League qualification.
Baines is in his sixth season with Everton, having joined from Wigan in 2007, and has seen the club go through some difficult times on and off the field.
But Moyes now has a squad with a depth perhaps lacking in recent seasons; their victory in south Wales came without the injured Nikica Jelavic, Darron Gibson and Tony Hibbert, while Steven Naismith and Sylvain Distin had to settle for places on the bench.
Baines said: "I think this is as good an Everton side as I have played in. The last time we were at this level was when we went on to reach the FA Cup final (in 2009).
"We had a really strong squad then. Then it got broken up after that and I think it is only now that we are back to that level.
"We are a good team with good players sitting on the bench. That is going to be key as the season goes on.
"We have seen it when things have got a bit thin in terms of numbers and we have been forced to play young lads. Now we can call on experienced and seasoned professionals who would be playing in most teams. Victor's performance highlights that."
But the full-back insists the players and management at the Merseyside club are keeping their feet firmly on the ground, although he acknowledges bucking their reputation as slow starters has given Everton a chance of challenging near the top of the table come May.
"We have to take each game as it comes, so to speak, and see where we end up," he said.
"Our aim and target was to get a decent start and I think we have just about done that now. It is about taking that up to Christmas and staying at the top end of the table because over the years we have always done well after Christmas.
"It's not a given but we have given ourselves a decent chance."
The dominant manner of Everton's win took the wind out of Swansea's sails after an encouraging start to life under Michael Laudrup.
They racked up eight goals in their wins against QPR and West Ham, but they have conceded five and scored none in losses to Aston Villa and the Toffees.
Laudrup said: "You always have to be concerned when you concede goals or you don't score. It's a combination.
"The most important thing we can learn from this game, and what we have to talk about, is why we had to wait 30 minutes to come into the game, which we knew would be very difficult.
"That should be the main concern for us all from this game."
Another worry for Laudrup will be the knee injury picked up by record signing Pablo Hernandez, who was withdrawn after just 45 minutes of his first Premier League start.
The Spaniard is expected to undergo a scan early in the coming week.
Latest in Sport
Gareth Bale reveals the two things he hates about Real Madrid: 'Getting nutmegged and Spanish spiders'
Cristiano Ronaldo: Real Madrid superstar 'sends his hair stylist to look after his waxwork once a month'
Six things we learnt: Louis van Gaal is watching a different Manchester United; Henderson becoming the genuine heir to Gerrard
Terminally-ill Club Brugge fan Lorenzo Schoonbaert delays euthanasia appointment to see his beloved football club 'win one last time'
Steven Gerrard tribute match: An alternative XI the Liverpool player wouldn't want crashing the Anfield party
- 1 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 2 Have sex with your iPad thanks to the new sex toy no-one asked for
- 3 Bali nine: Welcome to 'Execution Island' – the Indonesian holiday resort where foreigners are sent to die
- 4 The 'sex selfie stick' lets you FaceTime the inside of a vagina
- 5 Why you're almost certainly more like your father than your mother
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin