- By Shamoon Hafez
- BBC Sports at Goodison Park
Two wins out of two at Goodison Park under Sean Dyche had sparked optimism among Everton supporters.
The Toffees defeated Arsenal and Leeds United with performances that showed signs the players were rejuvenated under a new manager and could escape the danger of the Premier League.
But on Saturday they came unstuck against Aston Villa and their 2-0 defeat, along with victories for West Ham United and Leeds United, sent Dyche’s men back to the relegation zone.
Asked if the table is important at the moment, Dyche told BBC MOTD: “It’s not for me. I know what we have to do. The season finale is the key table.”
“We know where we are. I wasn’t exaggerating last week when we won.”
‘Target Switching Games’
Off the field the situation is chaotic for Everton.
The board have been advised to stay away from home matches due to threats to their safety and supporters marched down Goodison Road in protest again before kick-off.
His problems on the pitch are not difficult to detect. Everton are the league’s lowest scorer at 17 goals and have sold talented striker Anthony Gordon without bringing in a replacement and have an England striker in Dominic Calvert-Lewin who can’t keep up with his form.
It is this issue that may well decide whether Everton remain in the top flight at the end of a campaign that looks to be another great battle for survival.
Striker Neal Maupay has one goal in his last 28 Premier League games and was guilty of missing out on his side’s best chances against Villa.
The locals had 15 shots against Unai Emery’s team, five of which were on target, but none managed to get past goalkeeper Emiliano Martínez.
There were groans of frustration with every misplaced pass, high cross or deflected shot, and many fans headed for the exits early after Emiliano Buendía’s 81st-minute goal, which followed Ollie Watkins’ penalty.
“Football facts are obvious, goals change games, not just the score but also the feeling of the moment,” Dyche said.
“There were good signs of where we want to be and what I want the team to look like. The fans support the team, but we didn’t get the win and that’s frustrating for everyone.”
“The details in both boxes are forever the most important thing in football, that has to be a work in progress and it’s obvious it hasn’t been right all season.
“We’ve corrected it a bit, but we have to keep working. We’ve been trying to produce on the training ground and bring that into performances, but the key moments today made the difference. A lot of the moments were right.”
Scoring goals a ‘collective mentality’
Everton will be encouraged to see Nottingham Forest beaten 4-0 by West Ham United as the Merseyside club travel to the City Ground next Sunday.
It’s not all bleak though, with just four points separating the Toffees and Forest in 13th place.
Dyche believes that regaining the momentum he had after the win against Leeds will help their difficult goalscoring situation and give fans and players confidence that the team can score regularly.
He said: “When you create a sensation in the stadium among the players, when they come into the box you can feel that they are going to score.
“But that’s been a question mark all season: finding players in the box who score a goal.
“Once you change that round and freedom and belief comes, the ball goes into the box and you believe more.
But you have to make that happen, you can’t wait and that’s a collective mentality, the whole group committing to score goals.
“You have to commit to defending as a team, then everyone can score a goal equally. We saw that with James Tarkowski and Seamus Coleman, everyone takes responsibility.”