Idrissa Gana Gueye revealed Everton are brimming with confidence after continuing their impressive recent form with a convincing 2-0 victory at Huddersfield Town on Saturday.
Gana capped a dominant all-round display in the heart of the Everton midfield with a goal at the John Smith’s Stadium – rifling home from the edge of the area on 77 minutes to make the points safe after Cenk Tosun’s first-half opener.
The win means the Toffees have now accumulated 14 points from their past seven matches, rising to eighth place in the table, and conceding just one goal in four games. Everton have also collected the sixth highest points haul in the Premier League since their 2-0 win against the Terriers at Goodison on 2 December.
Gana – who has won the second-most tackles of any top-flight player this season (113) – says morale is high in the camp as a result.
“You see it when we play,” he says. “The confidence is back and we are feeling good about how we play. It was difficult earlier in the season but the manager has got us getting results and we have moved up the league.
“We know we have a good team and the results have been coming and that has given us belief again.”
Aside from his goal, Gana’s all-action performance alongside the equally influential Morgan Schneiderlin in the Everton’s midfield engine room also caught the eye at the weekend.
Schneiderlin has started the Toffees’ past five matches and his quality on the ball was highlighted by his impressive 83.9 per cent passing accuracy against Huddersfield – a figure bettered by only his close friend Gana (85.2 per cent) in the Everton side.
The Frenchman's appetite for possession was also evident. He had 71 touches of the ball, which was surpassed by only Seamus Coleman (77) in the Everton line-up.
Gana was hot on Schneiderlin's heels in this respect, with 70 touches, as the pair helped dictate the tempo against David Wagner’s men.
Schneiderlin’s reading of the game was also showcased as he made a match-best four interceptions. This was complemented by Gana’s dynamism in the tackle – the former Aston Villa man won six challenges, the highest of anyone on the pitch.
Gana says he is relishing playing alongside such an accomplished performer as Schneiderlin and backed the 28-year-old to build on his excellent displays – and help the Blues get off to a flying start in 2018/19.
“Morgan is in good form and that is good for the team because he is an important player,” said the Senegal international. “We know that. If he is playing like that, it is better for the team because he can keep the ball well.
“Hopefully he will keep that form for next season. We like to play together. But it is not just Morgan and me, we have players like Tom Davies and Wayne Rooney and we all enjoy playing together.
“We are working hard but disappointed we did not play like this at the start of the season. We have to keep this going and next season we will be better.
“We must keep working like we are on the training ground and enjoy playing – because you have to enjoy it – that is why you start playing football.”