Everton boss Sam Allardyce hoping to continue rebuilding job against Man City

Sam Allardyce 23:00 30/03/2018
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The Toffees are hoping to finish the campaign on a high-note.

We have to believe that we can upset the odds today against Manchester City. We have to be in a positive frame of mind and go out and challenge ourselves against a City side that is being labelled one of the best ever in the Premier League.

It’s very straightforward from an Everton standpoint really – we must aim to go and do our very best and see if that will be good enough.

There are several elements we can take genuine confidence from. Our past two games, in which we’ve managed to generate 27 attempts on goal, have kept us going in a good, positive direction. In our past 10 games at home, we’ve amassed 23 points and, since I’ve been here at the Club, we’ve conceded only six goals in eight games at Goodison, winning five, drawing two and scoring 13 goals.

In fact, from December 2 when we played Huddersfield at home, our points total home and away is the sixth best in the Premier League, five points better than Arsenal over the same period and only two points off Chelsea. We’ve built a solid platform, considering where we were, and we need to keep building.

The form of Cenk Tosun, whom we signed in the January transfer window from Turkish side Besiktas, has been particularly pleasing. He has demonstrated a steely eye for goal and clinical technique in our past three games, with eight shots, seven on target and four goals. He looks a real finisher.

Theo Walcott, whom we also signed in January, has been in excellent form, too. The quality he has added to our right-hand side is significant and he’s forged a dynamic partnership along that flank with Seamus Coleman whose return to the team has coincided with some very positive results.

That’s actually no coincidence because over the past three years the difference between having Seamus and – on the opposite flank – Leighton Baines in the team together and not in the team is 0.5 points. On average we’ve secured 1.7 points per game when they’re in the side and 1.2 points per game when they’re not. Their experience and guile and quality on the ball, along with the balance it gives the team, makes their contribution huge.

But it’s also the quality we produced as a team against Brighton here at Goodison prior to the recent international break and the resilience, character and sheer grim determination we had to demonstrate against Stoke at the bet365 Stadium which increases our sense that we are headed in a good, positive direction. Our build-up play against Brighton, particularly in the second half, was really encouraging and we want to replicate that through the rest of the season.

Defensively, we’ve managed to reduce our goals against column significantly in the time I’ve been here and credit to the players and to the staff who have worked hard to accomplish this. I think we are down to only 1.25 goals per game conceded whereas before it was up well beyond two goals per game.

Very pleasing, too, has been the form of our goalkeeper, Jordan Pickford, whom I have no doubt is capable of being England’s No.1 at the World Cup. He has given Gareth Southgate a lot to think about, with his performance against Holland and the consistency of his performances for Everton this season. He is always there when needed. Everybody makes the odd mistake but they’ve been very few and far between where Jordan’s concerned.

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