By Nick Teale
Arsenal's season kicked off on a high when they destroyed Everton 6-1 on the opening day of the Premier League campaign.
The game proved to be a springboard for the Gunners' season and they have already scored 51 goals this term. But for Everton the disappointment was unrelenting.
Injury after injury left David Moyes' already small squad struggling for first-team players and, despite being unbeaten since the end of November, the Toffees have won just two of their last 13 Premier League encounters.
To get the latest from Goodison Park, we spoke to the Liverpool Echo's Greg O'Keeffe.
THE STORY SO FAR
"Hopes were high at the start of the season. They had wanted to push on from last season's run to the FA Cup Final and strengthen in some key areas but unfortunately they became embroiled in a transfer saga with Joleon Lescott, which meant that all the transfer plans were put on hold until the deal was resolved. It meant that Moyes didn't know what his transfer budget would be and subsequently though they got a good deal for Lescott it had to be spent very quickly. That had a lingering effect on the start of the season and then the injury problems set in and that has been a major factor in the season."
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
"Everton have been without some of their key players for the best part of a year. Yakubu has only recently returned to the team after snapping his Achilles, Mikael Arteta will have been out for a year when he finally returns in February. He was the creative heartbeat of the team. Other players have been out for extended periods including Phil Jagielka and the influential captain Phil Neville."
REASONS TO BE CHEERFUL
"They are defiantly turning things around now. It might be optimistic but there's no reason why they can't target a rapid climb up the table and there's no reason why they can't at least aim for fifth though it will be much tougher to achieve than in previous seasons. I would imagine by the end of the season Everton will be in the top six or seven."
"Sylvain Distin was starting to settle in until he got a hamstring injury but the jury isn't out, he's a solid and experienced Premier League defender. Diniyar Bilyaletdinov has come from the Russian league, which is obviously very different from the Premier League. He's at the point now where if he had stayed in Russia he would have played the full season, so he's probably at a stage in his fitness where he would need a break. Obviously he can't have one until May so it will be a physical challenge for him to carry on playing to Premier League demands."
"Certainly playing the top-four sides away from home Moyes tries to stop the opposition from playing and then grab a goal on the break. And with memories of the 6-1 defeat to Arsenal at the start of the season in mind I don't think they'll be trying to match the Gunners' playing style."