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Dyche looks at positives despite Everton slipping to disappointing Fulham defeat

The Toffees had by far the better but poor finishing cost them dear

Everton FC v Fulham FC - Premier League Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

What is peak Everton? Because just when you think you’ve seen it they go and pull something else special out of the bag

Step forward Saturday’s opening day defeat to Fulham.

The Toffees had 19 shots at goal, with nine on target, as well as hitting the bar and having a first half goal controversially disallowed. Their XG of 2.93 was higher than any other Premier League side registered last season without scoring. Yet it was Fulham who scored with their first of just two shots on target in the 73rd minute for a smash and grab victory.

Welcome back.

Everton FC v Fulham FC - Premier League Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images
Everton FC v Fulham FC - Premier League Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images

Goalscoring problems are not new, they mustered just 34 in 38 league games last season, so you can understand the fans’ frustration that such a glaring weakness in the squad has not yet been addressed in time for the start of the new campaign, resulting in a winnable fixture being thrown away.

Yet, there are also positives. It is better to be creating chances than not creating them at all, and fortune was certainly against the team at key moments.

That is the attitude Sean Dyche is taking as he once again tries to keep a calm head amongst the chaos.

“Sometimes football can be incredibly frustrating and it certainly was today, because I don’t believe we deserved to get nothing from the game.

“I thought we were a strong side today, the performance was strong on so many levels, particularly with the chances we created.

“I know when I got here there was a lot of noise on creating chances and scoring, of course. We managed to change it enough to get the job done last season and we’ve built in pre-season.

“I thought there were good signs of that - playing, counter-playing, being on the front foot, getting bodies in the box and finding quality and we did those things but we didn’t finish off the key moments.

“That’s the biggest frustration, along with the referee’s decision, which is a bizarre one to me.”

Dyche also expressed his frustration at referee Stuart Atwell after he disallowed Michael Keane’s goal for an apparent foul by James Tarkowski on Bernd Leno, even though replays showed Tarkwoski did little to hinder the Fulham goalkeeper.

Everton FC v Fulham FC - Premier League Photo by Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

”I don’t know what the referee and VAR thought of it because Tarkowski does nothing but stand his ground.

“He’s not looking to bump the keeper or get involved with him, he’s almost cowering as if he knows the keeper is coming over the top of him, then he drops it on his head.

“I don’t know what he’s meant to do about that. I’ve no clue why that’s not a goal.”

Dominic Calvert-Lewin was once again unavailable, hardly a surprise, with Neal Maupay filling in and missing three decent chances to open the scoring.

New signing Youssef Chermiti could only watch from the stands having only signed late last week, while loanee Arnaut Danjuma was only fit enough to be a substitute, highlighting the paucity of options in front of goal, with a winger and experienced striker still on the club’s shopping list before the deadline.

It led to Dyche stating the blindingly obvious.

“The important thing is to score a goal, we know that, but if you keep creating that many chances, that many quality chances, week-in and week-out, you are going to win games.

“But, of course, we have said that before so we’ve got to add in those moments of true clinical finishing - and passing as well because we got into some great areas today. It’s not just the finish, it’s the passing as well.

“Some of the breakaways, some of the moments, some of the quality of chances were excellent today. One of our analysts said about xG, which I’m not that big a believer in but it’s still a reference point, was around three, which is high in the Premier League.

“Inevitably, it’s only a measure but we’ve got to look at where we were and where are we now - and that, I thought, was a big shift. Now we’ve got to find those moments to go and score goals.

“But there’s a real strong sign there today, a strong sign of a good outfit there that is creating lots of chances and a lot of good things so we’ve got to maintain the belief in that.”