Marco Silva praised the high-quality and relentless work rate displayed by Gylfi Sigurdsson and Richarlison as he set out his desire for Everton to build on their encouraging start to the Premier League season with a victory at Bournemouth on Saturday.
After kicking off their Premier League campaign with a 2-2 draw at Wolverhampton Wanderers – when the Blues played for 50 minutes with just 10 men – Everton saw off Southampton 2-1 at Goodison Park last week.
Silva’s men produced a vibrant, energetic display against the Saints, playing on the front foot straight from the first whistle and posing a constant goal threat.
Club-record signing Sigurdsson was the Toffees’ chief creative force, as he made six key passes – a total not bettered by any Premier League player over the weekend and only equalled by Manchester City’s Spanish maestro David Silva.
Sigurdsson also whipped in five crosses and embarked on two dribbles, while the Saints’ trouble in containing the playmaker were highlighted by the fact he was fouled four times – more than any other player in the match.
The Icelander’s work ethic also caught the eye - he ran a total of 11.1km - and Silva was eager to praise Sigurdsson’s all-round performance.
“He was fantastic,” said the boss at his pre-match press conference ahead of the Blues’ trip to Bournemouth. “I saw him really enjoying the game both because of what he was doing on the ball, and because he did fantastic without the ball, too.
“It was important to grow his confidence. He prepared himself for everything, he prepared his body and mind, and he works during the week.
“He had some fantastic moments, we played good football and normally Gylfi was there.
"With the ball, of course, he is a player with high quality, and when he can find the right space – and he did in the last game – he can be decisive and do something important for us.
“And he created moments between the lines, moments to cross or pass the ball for his teammates at the right times."
Another Blue in blistering form last Saturday was Richarlison, who added to his opening weekend brace at Wolves with a predatory headed finish.
The Brazilian, who is the first Everton player to hit three goals in his first two games since Brian McBride in 2003, has rapidly emerged as a fans’ favourite at Goodison.
Silva says the 21-year-old is a further example of a player who combines exceptional talent with impressive industry.
“It is not a surprise for me [how well he has started],” Silva said, “We know he can score in important moments but it is also everything he can do for us as a squad, how he can support the team with the ball and without the ball.
“Even if he didn’t score in the last match or against Wolves, he did well, he worked well and this is important for me.”
Silva revealed Morgan Schneiderlin, Yerry Mina and Andre Gomes will all miss the trip to Bournemouth this weekend, but Lucas Digne is available having recovered from a minor injury.
The Cherries have won their opening two Premier League games and Silva expects a stern test from Eddie Howe’s side.
He insists the Blues will travel to the south coast with only victory in their sights, however.
“It will be a tough game,” he said. “They have a good squad, a good coach. They have a good style of play, as well.
“I know the stadium, too, and it is not easy to play there but we will go there to play our football and compete at a high level. We want to play in our way and I want the players to play with big confidence and enjoy what they are doing.
"We will try to take the three points.”