Everton manager Marco Silva said he does not believe his side have showed signs of inconsistency amid their recent improved run.
The Blues took 10 points from 12 at home to Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United in March and April, but also put in a dreadful display in a 2-0 away defeat to relegated Fulham between the wins over the Gunners and the Red Devils.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference on Thursday before the trip to Crystal Palace on Saturday, Silva said that, just because Everton had won their previous three matches before facing Fulham, the defeat at Craven Cottage does not mean his team lack consistency:
“It is our goal as a team, but for me, when we lose a game, it’s not a moment to talk about inconsistency in our team. It can happen, even though I don’t like it, even though I always prepare the team to win.
“Of course, all of you expected after our three wins in a row to go there [to Fulham] and win easily. I told you it would be a difficult match, and we prepared our players in that way. They were better than us. We didn’t perform the way I wanted, but it’s not a matter of inconsistency because if you look at our last six games, our form is really good.
“Even if we didn’t achieve the result we wanted in that game, and in the game against Newcastle [3-2 away defeat in March], I don’t think it’s a matter of inconsistency.”
The Fulham defeat is a result and performance Silva will be looking to avoid this weekend, in their first away game since then, at Selhurst Park.
Roy Hodgson’s side secured safety on Easter Sunday with a 3-2 win at Arsenal, and Silva is aware of the threats they will pose to his side, including from midfielder Luka Milivojević, who he managed at Olympiakos:
“We have to prove our quality again; it will be tough. I don’t want to compare the Fulham match with the Palace match because I can see in Palace’s team really good quality, like I saw in Fulham.
“The players in their attack line can decide the game in one moment. One player I know really well, Luka [Milivojević], is another key player who can support their attack from midfield.
“They have quality. It will be a tough place to play, but a good place to play, also. It’s up to us to do our best, and if we reach our best, we can win the match.”
Everton climbed to seventh on Sunday after their 4-0 thumping of Manchester United, but a midweek win and a draw for Wolverhampton Wanderers and Watford respectively saw the Blues fall to ninth.
The Toffees now sit two points off seventh-placed Wolves, who travel to Watford on Saturday.
But Silva would not be drawn into debate over whether the success of his debut season rests solely on whether Everton finish seventh, potentially securing European qualification in the process:
“First, we have to keep fighting. We aren’t in seventh; it’s not the moment to talk about it. ‘Ifs’ are not the most important thing in this moment.
“Nothing has changed in our goals since the first day of the season; even in January and February. We have to stick together and fight for what we want.
“It will be tight; we are in competition with clubs having really good seasons too. We have to keep doing the best we can and in the end, we will see what position we end up in the table.”