Toffees fan Izhar hopeful Everton will qualify for Champions League

Izhar Shazly Pakhorarazi is an optimist as he always hopes his beloved Everton ends its trophy drought or challenges for the league title.

This season is no different – except the Toffees finally do look capable of mounting a serious challenge if not for the title, then at least a place in the Champions League.

Everton bought wisely in pre-season and started the season with a bang – seven consecutive victories in league and cup.

“Naturally, I wanted them to fly off the blocks – which they did – but I was also half expecting them to come unstuck once injuries and suspension kicked in,” said Izhar.

“Some good buys do not make a good team. The lack of depth was evident with a few of the starters out.”

Those injuries and suspension kicked in after the 2-2 draw with bitter rival Liverpool. Everton soon lost three games on the bounce.

It got back to winning ways against Fulham last week but faces a tough challenge when Leeds visits on Sunday (1.30am).

“We faltered after the draw with Liverpool. Richarlison was suspended after his red card, and we had injuries to some key players,” said Izhar.

“The ones that came into the side are frankly just not good enough.

“Previously, I would have said Allan was the most important player in the team because he wins all his tackles.

“But recent events have me thinking it has to be Richarlison. He just makes things happen.”

It comes as no surprise the three games Everton lost coincided with Richarlison’s suspension.

But now that he is back, Izhar is hoping the Merseyside outfit can climb back up to the table, starting against Leeds.

The Championship winner has flattered to deceive in the league. It has dropped to 14th after losing four of its nine matches including back-to-back 4-1 defeats.

Nonetheless, Leeds remains a threat and that is something Izhar is all too aware of.

“Great club, great manager, decent side. They have a few good players too. I see them ruffling some feathers this season,” he said.

“I see goals in this match. Defensively, neither team has been that great, but the attacking potential from both looks very promising.”

So, does he think Everton can win the league this year?

“Europe has to be the priority now. Regular participation will breed confidence and maybe then it’ll be time to think about the league,” he said,

“Cups are another thing though. I hope Everton can at least do well in the FA Cup or League Cup.”

And as much as it pains him, he reckons the top three teams would be Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham with Everton in fourth although he tips Leicester to be in the mix too.

Separately, the big match of the week will see league leader Tottenham hosting London rival Chelsea which is third, on Monday (12.30am).

Tottenham has 20 points from nine matches, two more than Chelsea with Liverpool second only on goal difference.

Leicester is fourth (18), followed by Southampton (17) and Everton (16).

FIXTURES (Malaysian time)
Crystal Palace vs Newcastle (4am)
Brighton vs Liverpool (8.30pm)
Manchester City vs Burnley (11pm)

Everton vs Leeds (1.30am)
West Brom vs Sheffield United (4am)
Southampton vs Manchester United (10pm)

Chelsea vs Tottenham (12.30am)
Arsenal vs Wolves (3.15am)

Leicester vs Fulham (1.30am)
West Ham vs Aston Villa (4am)