Phil McNulty believes Everton will avoid relegation from the Premier League this season despite their 10-point deduction for breaching spending rules.
Writing on the BBC Sport website, the journalist said the Toffees are “labouring” under the punishment of their points deduction, but that it has acted as a “unifying force” for the club.
He highlighted how he previously predicted the 17th-placed Blues would stay up even if they were deducted 12 points, adding that he stands by that statement as Sean Dyche looks to steer his side away from trouble again.
“Everton are labouring under the punishment of a 10-point Premier League points reduction having been found to have breached financial rules, although they are in the process of appealing,” said McNulty.
“It has acted as a unifying force and a run of four straight Premier League wins wiped out that deficit and took them out of the relegation places.
“There has been a slip recently but Sean Dyche is doing a fine job. The fragility of his squad is still evident though, as has been demonstrated by the impact of Abdoulaye Doucoure’s injury.
“I stated Everton would stay up even if they were deducted 12 points. I stand by that.”
It sounds as though McNulty is extremely confident that Everton will beat the drop this season and there are plenty of reasons why he should be.
Although the Toffees suffered a slight dip in form over the festive period, they have put in a number of excellent performances throughout the campaign.
But after Dyche helped guide them away from trouble following some unconvincing early-season results, the 10-point deduction has made relegation a realistic prospect again.
They sit just one point above Luton Town and the Premier League newcomers have a game in hand that could see them leapfrog the Blues and take them out of the relegation zone.
But the Merseysiders should be confident that they have more than enough at their disposal to not be in any trouble come May if they maintain the standards they set in the first half of the season.