Leighton Baines insists Everton must build on their second-half "resilience" shown against Manchester City as focus turns towards this weekend's "massive" derby game at Goodison.
The Blues slipped to only their second defeat in 11 home games on Saturday against the runaway league leaders. After City had established a three-goal lead by half-time, Everton dug in and kept Pep Guardiola’s men at bay in the second period. The Toffees also had a goal to show for their efforts, Yannick Bolasie firing home just after the hour mark.
The game was Baines’ third on the spin and the 33-year-old has made an impressive return to the starting XI following more than three months out with a calf injury.
The left-back made his comeback in the 2-0 victory over Brighton & Hove Albion on 10 March and followed up a dynamic display against the Seagulls with another accomplished performance in the 2-1 win at Stoke City seven days later.
Baines – who played his 400th Premier League game on Saturday – was a key figure in keeping a talented City outfit at arm’s length in the second period at the weekend.
He believes the resolve the Blues displayed can help the side approach their Merseyside derby clash against Liverpool at Goodison on Saturday with a positive mindset.
“It was a tough game and I’m glad that that we managed to show a bit of resilience and put in a better performance in the second half,” he said.
“We made a couple of little tweaks that helped us out. We’ve managed to not concede, we got a goal and everyone can go away feeling a little bit better than if the game had continued in the pattern of the first half.”
Baines – who has played for more than a decade in the top flight – says Guardiola’s side are the best he come up against in the Premier League and insists Everton must now move on and focus on the 231st Merseyside derby at Goodison (kick-off 12.30pm).
“I think they [City] are the best team I’ve played against,” said the defender. “And I’d played against that Arsenal team at Highbury – the Invincibles.
“The football IQ, particularly of the midfielders, is at another level and they have speed as well.
“Thankfully the second half went the way it did, so we can use that. We’ve now got to prepare for a massive game.”