Everton continue to bewilder

The result at Goodison Park followed on from a 7-2 aggregate hammering of BSC Young Boys in the round of 32. The Toffees were afforded a tie against one of the second-place finishers from the group stage after they topped Group H.

Roberto Martinez would have been cursing his side's luck when the draw for the Europa League was made, with Everton finding themselves grouped with Wolfsburg, Lille and Russian outfit Krasnodar in one of the tougher groups in the competition. Despite this, the Goodison Park outfit progressed with ease, their only defeat coming to Krasnodar when they fielded a second-string team in the final round after securing their spot in the knockout phase with a game to play.

What makes these results so curious is that Everton have been dire in domestic action.

The Toffees have won just six games in the Premier League this season –  the same number of victories they've notched up in just nine matches in Europe.

It's not just the results, though. While Everton have at times been unlucky, with a fair few decisions going against them (but then it always feels that way, doesn't it?), it's impossible to deny that Martinez's side have been woeful this term.

Last season the sight of Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman bombing up the flanks to provide Romelu Lukaku with pinpoint crosses – or just scoring themselves – inspired fear in opposition defences. This season the Everton full-backs have been largely subdued, while a chance falling to Lukaku has more often than not been missed.

Martinez's fondness of a possession-based game has boarded on an obsession that has destroyed the Toffees. Rather than attack they look to retain possession, a great idea if football matches were won in possession stakes, not so shrewd when goals are what counts.

In addition, Gareth Barry and Sylvain Distin's age-defying acts appear to have ended in the off-season, with the pair looking short of more than a yard of pace. Perhaps the most curious case of loss of form is reserved for Tim Howard. The American keeper, whose performances at the World Cup saw him receive a phone call from Barack Obama and caused the internet to exploded with memes portraying his greatness, has been woeful between the sticks. One calamity after another has resulted in calls for the promotion of number two Joel Robbles, a man more prone to mistakes than miracles.

History shows that the extra weight of Europa League fixtures often causes a club to suffer on the home front, but rarely do the two campaigns demonstrate such polar opposites in fortunes.

With Manchester City facing a tough assignment away to Barcelona next week, it's quite possible that Everton will end the week as the only English club still in Europe. Considering that they're only a stone's through away from the relegation places, Everton fans will rightly be wondering why it is that there club can't perform in the league as they do in Europe.

James Ho