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Silva may persist with back three for Brighton trip

Blues manager was delighted with players’ reaction to Spurs embrassment in Burnley Boxing Day battering

Burnley FC v Everton FC - Premier League
Yerry Mina was part of a back three in the 5-1 win at Burnley yesterday
Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

Everton manager Marco Silva says he was delighted with how the Blues adapted to his new system in the Boxing Day win at Burnley, and may stick with it for Saturday’s game at Brighton & Hove Albion.

For only the second match this season, Silva opted for a defence of three central defenders, with Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman operating further forward as wing-backs.

His approach worked to perfection, as the Blues responded to Sunday’s 6-2 home drubbing to Tottenham Hotspur with a resounding 5-1 win at the Clarets.

Burnley FC v Everton FC - Premier League
Lucas Digne scored a brace for the Blues on Boxing Day
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Speaking at his pre-match press conference before the visit to the Seagulls, Silva said:

“Everything I decided [for Burnley] was not just because of what happened against Tottenham, or because the result was tough for us. Each game we have a plan; we analyse our opponent and we decide what our plan will be.

“Formations are not the most important thing because you can do everything in every formation you can think of, But if you don’t play with mobility, it’s easier every time for the opponent as well. I changed because, for the match against Burnley, it was the best solution for us.

“It [three at the back] is something we are working on more now; it’s something I had in my mind since pre-season. It was not the first time we did it, and let’s see in the future if we do it more.

After the embarrassment of the Spurs debacle, Silva was pleased to have another game just three days later, and felt his players showed their depth of character in responding in such emphatic fashion.

Rather than focusing on the size of the scoreline, the Blues’ biggest away from home in the league since September 1985, the manager took more satisfaction from the overall team performance, as Everton raced into a three-goal lead inside 22 minutes:

“We had a tough Sunday; a tough result for us and for our fans, but football always gives you the chance to do something different in the next game.

“It was good for us that the Burnley game came so quickly. We did the most important thing for us - we won the game and as a team our players showed a good reaction because it was really tough.

“Not because we won with a good score, but because of everything we did since the first minute; we knew before the match it would be difficult because it is a really specific match.

“We had to play not just with quality but with big commitment and focus as well. we did that and won the game. That’s the most important thing.”

On Saturday’s opponents, Silva is well aware of Brighton’s excellent home form; of their nine league matches at the Amex Stadium, they have only suffered defeat to Spurs and Chelsea.

Brighton & Hove Albion v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Brighton drew 1-1 at home to Arsenal yesterday
Photo by Steve Bardens/Getty Images

While the Blues boss respects the quality Chris Hughton’s side possess, particularly at home, Silva remains confident in Everton’s ability to complete a league double over the Seagulls, having beaten them 3-1 at Goodison Park in November:

“It’s always difficult to play there for every team they play against. It will be tough for us but we go there to play with a big ambition to take the three points.

“We know they win many, many points when they play at home; in some moments they can be different when they play at home than when they play away, but we have to go there to play our football, to be aware about their qualities because they have very good qualities, but to believe in ourselves.

“By playing at a high level, giving our best performance, we can achieve the three points.”

The win at Turf Moor was only Everton’s second triumph on the road in the league this season, with the Blues’ away form having been a problem for numerous years.

Manchester City v Everton FC - Premier League
Everton lost their previous away game at Manchester City, their fourth defeat on the road this term
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

But Silva is confident that, in the second half of the season, his side will enjoy an upturn in form on their travels, starting on Saturday:

“We will improve, I don’t have doubts about that. When you look to the numbers and to the wins we achieved away until now, of course it’s not the perfect number.

“Before the Burnley match we played against all the other teams [in the top six, besides Tottenham, away from home].

“We won against Leicester, and in the first two away games we played almost an hour and a half with ten men and even those matches we didn’t lose. I’m sure we will improve these numbers in the second half of the season.”