Everton go into their final-day fixture at home to Bournemouth on Sunday with their proud 69-year presence in the top flight of English football depending on a repeat of the two last-day escapes of the 1990s that are part of the club’s folklore.
Victory at Goodison Park will ensure a 121st top-flight season — a record unmatched anywhere in the world — while a draw or even defeat will see Everton safe if Leicester City and Leeds United fail to beat West Ham United and Tottenham Hotspur, respectively, in the simultaneous kick offs.
Everton are currently on 33 points to the 31 of their relegation rivals. The previous lowest total to avoid the drop was the 34 of West Bromwich Albion in 2005 but Everton fans won’t care a jot about that if they survive, having averted the danger of the drop only on the penultimate weekend last year.
Things looked bleak again this season as the introduction of Sean Dyche for the sacked Frank Lampard brought only a hint of “new boss bounce” until the astonishing 5-1 win at high-flying Brighton & Hove Albion two weeks ago transformed the league table and the Merseyside club’s whole mindset.
The 99th-minute equaliser in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers, fittingly scrambled home by a combination of three centre backs, supplied a massive injection of belief and edged them marginally clear of the drop zone.
The only sour note was yet another injury for striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who has missed most of the season.
ith Everton’s upturn in form as they finally had a focal point in attack and fans will pray that he can recover from a hamstring strain for Sunday’s game.
As founder members of the league in 1888, Everton have spent just four seasons outside the top flight — 1930-31 and three in the early 1950s. Their 69-year unbroken run since 1954 is second only to Arsenal’s (1919).