Everton’s unbeaten run to start the season came to a grinding halt after a fatigued performance at Stamford Bridge saw the Blues soundly beaten 2-0 by Chelsea earlier today.
After the game, manager Ronald Koeman defended his players, saying that he was resigned to not taking much away from the toughest part of the schedule that included trips to Manchester City and Chelsea, with Tottenham Hotspur and Manchester United lying in wait as well.
“We need at least two more players to get numbers in, but the most important thing is to get a striker in.
“If you look at all the squads of the big teams, they have so many options. If we get everybody back, like [Seamus] Coleman, [Morgan] Schneiderlin, [Yannick] Bolasie, [James] McCarthy… if we have them, that's good. But we have injuries, which are part of football as well.”
On the subject of getting Diego Costa in the last few days of the transfer window, he said -
“I don't know. We are looking to the players who are maybe available. If we sign somebody, it's somebody to make the team better. I don't speak about names of players. We are looking and doing our job. Hopefully we will arrange it for next week.
“I'm always confident because we did some good business, but the board knows the importance of the two signings.”
On the game itself, Koeman added -
“I am disappointed about the first half because our ball possession was poor.
“That cost us the second goal, at least. We had spaces to play but we didn’t. We did not have enough movement to give options to the player on the ball. You know how Chelsea start and how they press; you need to be at your best to get a result and we weren’t.
“The second half was much better. Much more control and better organisation, but it was difficult still. We lost it in the first half and not in the second.
“I’m defending my players - they did everything. It wasn’t good enough in the first half, but I’m proud how they fought until the last second to at least be a team on the pitch. It was really difficult and really hot.
“Chelsea hadn’t played in the week and we had a really tough week. Reaching the group stage of the Europa League was what we wanted and one point out of City and Chelsea away games is not bad.”
Talking about some of his returning players -
“I’m really impressed [with Dominic] and that started last season, not today. Dominic is doing well in that position and he’s strong, but he’s played so many games and is a young player.
“Sandro was back from his injury and if you have three games in five or six days and you need to travel, you can’t do it with 11 players. The young boys now go with England Under-21s and will play again.
“You need to protect not only the young ones - you saw today with Wayne and Gylfi. Maybe it was too much for Gylfi to play twice in a short period after a difficult pre-season, but I did not have six or seven players available. And that’s the reason why, with City, Hajduk and Chelsea, it’s too much.”