Everton look to maintain their recent good form when they take on Brighton at Goodison Park on Saturday looking to make it three wins in the space of seven days.
Wednesday’s win over Burnley in the Carabao Cup made it five wins out of seven in all competitions. Yes it is a low bar, but that represents Everton’s best run of results in a none-Covid season since May 2019.
Sean Dyche seems to have hit upon a winning system and first choice XI, with the likes of Amadou Onana and Jarrad Branthwaite starting to fulfil their potential, while Dominic Calvert-Lewin is on his best run of games for more than two years.
A decent draw at home to Fulham also means fans are starting to get excited about a possible place in the semi-finals, or even a trip to Wembley (though I’m sure Cottagers fans are thinking the same thing).
Outsiders may accuse Evertonians of getting carried away, but after the trauma of the last two seasons, who cares?
Morale has been on the floor pretty much since Carlo Ancelotti left the club in the summer of 2021 so Toffees fans have every right to enjoy the team winning a few games.
There is still plenty of work to be done in the league and injuries are likely to be a deciding factor, but for now why enjoy the moment?
While Everton ultimately want to be competing with the likes of Manchester City and Arsenal, it is Brighton who should be the club to aspire to in the short and medium term.
The Seagulls’ are very much the model club thanks to a brilliant recruitment department that sees them identify young talent from across the globe before selling on for huge profits.
The south coast club made a profit of £87m last summer alone, mainly thanks to the £115m sale of Mosies Caicedo to Chelsea and £55m departure of Alexis Mac Allister to Liverpool.
After finishing in their highest-ever position of sixth last season Brighton have made a solid start to this campaign, sitting in seventh place, though they head to Goodison on a shaky run of form.
Roberto de Zerbi’s side have won just one of their last six games in all competitions, against Ajax in the Europa League, and are without a Premier league win since September.
They do though have happy memories of Goodison Park, trouncing the Blues 4-1 in one of the darkest days of last season in early January.
Brighton 1-5 Everton, 8 May 2023
One of the most remarkable results of last season and one that was ultimately decisive in keeping Everton up, the Toffees romped to a 5-1 win at the Amex Stadium on a soggy day in early May. Abdoulaye Doucoure and Dwight McNeil scored twice, along with a Jason Steele own goal, as Everton moved out of the relegation zone with the three points. They would not drop into the bottom three again.
Everton have no fresh injury concerns following their midweek win over Burnley.
Seamus Coleman is back training after a knee injury and is expected to play for the U21s over the weekend to gain match fitness.
Dele Alli and Andre Gomes are still sidelined and a few weeks away from a return.
What they said
Everton boss Sean Dyche: “I’m always hungry for more. I felt that we should have more points in the board. I think the players do, but they’re now beginning to add to the performances from early in the season by adding that hard edge to defend properly and defend with that resolute nature.
“And equally, attack with that bit more freedom and to score goals and feel free to score goals, particularly at Goodison. That’s what we’ve got to change, and we are beginning to change that.
“Our chance count is slightly less, but the finishing is improving. We’re getting goals from other positions as well – not just relying on a striker, so we’re pleased with that.
“There’s no two ways about it – that winning mentality - it grows, and the more wins you get, the more it grows. So, we want to continue that, whilst realising we’re playing a really good side in Brighton.”
This is a tough fixture against one of the most forward-thinking teams in the division who steamrollered through Everton at Goodison last year. But I’d like to think the Toffees have rediscovered a bit of steel which gives them a chance of getting something.