Sam Allardyce says Everton must be “clinical and resilient” in order to secure victory over “dangerous” Brighton & Hove Albion at Goodison Park on Saturday.
Allardyce has overseen a productive sequence of results on home turf, with the Toffees amassing 17 points from the 24 on offer at their own ground since the manager saw Everton beat West Ham 4-0 on the eve of his appointment.
Leicester City and Crystal Palace left Goodison empty handed following the Blues’ past two home games. But after seeing Everton fail to add to Cenk Tosun’s bullet header at Burnley last week, Allardyce insists it is essential that his side convert their openings against Brighton – while showing the defensive solidity which saw them breached just once in his first three home games at the helm. Indeed, the Toffees conceded only consolation goals from the penalty spot in the respective 2-1 and 3-1 victories over Leicester and Palace.
“It is important the players are mentally positive about their performance against Brighton and remind themselves what they have done at home,” said Allardyce.
“We have to deliver the same type of performance we have been doing at Goodison, particularly in the past two games, to make sure we give ourselves an opportunity to win.
"The players must play at their top level individually and as a team to do that. We have to make sure we are the ones scoring the chances that we create, not missing them.
“We cannot change what has happened in the past two away games, what we can focus on is how well we have played in the past two home games against Leicester and Crystal Palace.”
Brighton will come to Goodison on a high after moving into the top half of the Premier League table on the back of a run of five matches without defeat.
Chris Hughton’s side has not lost in seven games in all competitions and next week tackle Manchester United in an FA Cup quarter-final tie.
And although the Sussex team – promoted last season after 34 years out of the top-flight – have scored only 28 goals in their 29 league fixtures, 11 of those have come in the past five matches, culminating with strikes from defender Lewis Dunk and in-form forward Glenn Murray in last Sunday’s win over Arsenal.
Everton have nevertheless hit the net five times in their past two home matches. They have won four and drawn two of Allardyce's seven Goodison matches and served up an adventurous display last time out in L4. The Toffees fired in 11 shots – six of those from outside the box – and swung 13 crosses into the penalty area from open play in the course of their success against Palace.
The Blues' purpose and ambition was further demonstrated by the 67 passes they fed into the final third, while Gylfi Sigurdsson and Oumar Niasse finished the game with a goal and an assist apiece.
“Brighton have been defensively sound all season and now they have put goals together with that,” said Allardyce.
“They have scored 15 in their past seven games [in league and cup], so they have become a very dangerous side when they are in possession.
“We have to be resilient and very aware of how we must play. Tactically we have to get it right, to make sure we are good enough to break down that defensive organisation and be clinical when we get an opportunity to score.
“It is a huge game, one of the biggest I have had in my short period of time here to try to win.
“It is about [adopting the attitude] – 'look, here we are, we are playing at home, this is what we did in the past two games – let’s go and emulate that, let’s go out and perform and get the fans behind us and give them something to cheer'.”