Manager Ronald Koeman stressed on the importance of team defence as Everton prepare for a tough assignment away at Manchester City.
He started off with an injury report -
“One side is good because we have some players back, like Darron Gibson.
“But James McCarthy is a little bit more difficult because, after five or six weeks out after his groin surgery, he played in two games for Ireland and we have to make the decision tomorrow if he’s really fit to be part of the team.
“Aaron Lennon is doubtful but the rest are okay. Romelu Lukaku, Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka are all fit.”
On Everton’s start to the season -
“Overall I think the start is positive. Of course, the last two or three results, including the Capital One Cup game, were not what we expect and we know we need to improve more.”
The Blues’ defence has been surprisingly strong so far -
“Normally, for every team, it’s a big impact, how your defence is.
“But it’s not just the four defenders. Defence starts in front and we need to run and we need to press.
“That’s the way we like to play football. It’s not possible to do that for 95 minutes but we like to press our opponents and I think that team work together is also influential in not conceding a lot of goals.”
On where he sees his effect on the players -
“What you like to see is what you train during the week. Technical-wise some key players in the team need to be more productive and we can improve. That is the total performance.
“We are in a good way but we know we can be better than we are at the moment.”
Saturday’s opponents City have been very good -
“They’ve made a very good start. Maybe not the last week before the international break but it’s impressive the way that they play football. I watched City against Gladbach in the Champions League live and it was very impressive to see the difference between how they play this season and how they played last season.
“That’s difficult for defending but we have some good examples of other teams who have got a good result against City.”
When asked about his roommate at Barcelona, Pep Guardiola -
“They are all good memories. We are really strong friends. Now it’s a little bit more easy because he is living in Manchester, I live close to Manchester and sometimes we have time to have dinner and to talk about football and life.
“But, of course, we have spent many hours together talking about football. When he was younger he was really interested in the way that we play football in Holland and I see a lot now in the teams managed by Pep about Barcelona, about Dutch football and I like that because that’s the most difficult way to win - to play offensive football and to win titles.
“We are friends. I wish them all the best - but not on Saturday."
On the disruptive effect of the international break -
“It’s always difficult when the game is after the international break. We’ve had a lot of players out who are coming back and it’s always difficult to have that focus that you need to beat City.
“But it is the same for them and we know we need to be at our best, we can’t make mistakes and we need to make a fight of the game so we get opportunities to score.
“And we need that team defence to get a good result.”
He sees one inherent risk in the way City play their football, especially with former Blues defender John Stones -
“Of course, he’s part of the philosophy of the coach and that is one of the good qualities of John Stones, he is that player from the back who really opens the game, who has that passing they need from the back.
“He’s comfortable on the ball but sometimes it is difficult because they are defending with a lot of space behind at the back and if we can break that and if what we like to do is going to be successful then we can make it difficult.”