Everton have a midweek game this week and it’s not an easy one either as the Toffees travel to Premier League leaders Arsenal. The Blues slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Goodison Park this last weekend to Aston Villa which saw them drop back into the relegation zone, while the Gunners sit on top of the table with a two-point lead over defending champions Manchester City who have played a game more as well.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference, Sean Dyche started off with a brief injury update with striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin still out and likely no squad changes as James Garner and Nathan Patterson remain out.
Asked about how his recovery was going, Dyche was terse, saying “He’s recovering” and when pushed further about if he could provide a timescale, he responded “No”.
On Garner and Patterson, Dyche said -
“They’ve [Garner and Patterson] been out a while, and they both need games,” revealed the Everton boss. “Jimmy is going well, he is getting fitter and stronger. There’s another [Under-21] game this week, so I will try and get him in that one.
“Then you are saying after three months out you should be classed as being fit if, but he’s going well. Patto is just a bit behind (Garner), he will need a bit more.”
The Toffees are now the lowest scoring team in the league, and it’s no irony considering Everton were the only team in the Premier League to not make a purchase during the recently-closed January transfer window.
When asked what his side needed to do get goals, Dyche emphasised it was not an individual responsibility but more a collective target.
“That’s been the theme of the season. There’s lots of work to be done. The team mentality has to be ‘we’re all allowed to score’. It’s not about one player. I ask that of them defensively – clean sheets start from the front.
“It’s only fair to ask it the other way around. Players have to take responsibility as a group as we all do in making enough chances and taking enough chances.”
The new manager was renowned for keeping things simple at Burnley when he coined the term ‘kick it in the net’ regarding the simplicity of scoring goals. Would it be as easy to implement here at Everton?
“It’s simple to talk about it but it’s not easy to deliver. I’m working with a different group of players but the mentality has been good. We’ve got to ask the players to create different ways of affecting games and while doing that not lose sight of the fact the shape has to be good, the defensive shape. The Premier League is unforgiving at both ends.
“We’ve shown good signs of developing the side being tighter and more structured in their defending. Now it’s how can we open the door when attacking.
“Certainly if you look at Saturday, we’d won two of the previous three and Saturday was a slightly more powerful performance but that’s how the big moments count, that’s how important they are to change a performance and people’s view of i
“The players are working diligently. They know the stats and facts, I don’t have to remind them of that, but I’ve said ‘even if you’re not scoring, as long as you’re doing the right things it will come your way’.”
The Blues had managed to upset the league leaders when they visited Goodison Park a few weeks ago in Dyche’s first game in charge of Everton just five days after his appointment, what would be different on Wednesday?
“They’re having a fine season for sure. They’re being very creative home and away but particularly at home, and they’ve proved they’re a force to be reckoned with.
“We’ve got to go down and be ready for that, and also give a performance ourselves like we did at home. It’s not as easy, the crowd at home were fantastic and made it a real dominant feel to our performance.
“We won’t have that away but we want the mentality to be there for our performance.”
The Toffees away form has been nothing short of horrific, with the Blues having managed only seven points away from Goodison, good enough for 4th worst in the league, but Dyche said his coaching staff is working on that shift in mindset.
“We have to go into these games with a belief in what we do and it’s mainly the consistency - the consistency of performance home and away. It’s well known that apart from the [COVID] pandemic season that most clubs have a stronger home form. There are all kinds of scientific reasons - higher testosterone in players from playing in front of the home crowd and all kinds of different things.
“At the end of the day, you can still have good away records by structuring the team and by suggesting the team maybe have to work in different ways, but most of all the mentality is important. You want players to go away from home with a strong jaw and a strong mentality to how it’s going to test you. That’s something we’ve got to build here.
“We’re in the early processes of doing that and having that ability to go away and still deliver on a consistent level and with that edge, because it’s important, particularly away from home, to have that edge in your play.
“At home, the crowd can help give you that edge but when you’re away you have to bring it in through the collective on the pitch. I think that’s important.”