Jordan Pickford believes consistency is key to Everton showing their qualities in 2019 as the keeper called on the Blues to “bring their A-game” when Leicester City visit Goodison Park on New Year’s Day.
The Toffees could not build on their superb 5-1 Boxing Day win at Burnley as a Jurgen Locadia strike condemned them to a 1-0 loss at Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday.
Despite the setback, Everton are two points off seventh place and have shown clear signs of progress under manager Marco Silva with their expansive, high-energy football.
Pickford has been heartened by the number of chances his side continue to create – Richarlison and Kurt Zouma both hit the woodwork at the Amex Stadium – while the England No.1 also pointed to the Toffees’ solid defensive base and squad depth.
The 24-year-old now wants Everton to put together a winning run to move up the Premier League table, starting with the clash against the Foxes at the Grand Old Lady.
“I think we are playing well, we’re gelling well, we just need to start getting that consistency,” said Pickford. “If you can’t win, don’t lose the game but Brighton scored and we couldn’t break them down.
“Leicester are a tough side. We won at their place [the 2-1 victory in October] so they’ll be trying to get a bit of revenge but we’ve just got to bring our A-game, recover well and hopefully get three points.
“We’ve shown glimpses of our ability going forward and, apart from the Tottenham game, defensively we’ve been solid.”
With Silva opting for a three-man central defence of Yerry Mina, Michael Keane and Kurt Zouma in the past two games, Pickford says the Blues’ defensive versatility others further encouragement.
And the 2017 summer signing from Sunderland was also full of praise for fellow England international Keane, who once again highlighted his fine form so far in 2018-19 with another assured performance at the back.
“He’s been very good,” said Pickford. “The consistency in his performances have been very good as well and at a high standard. It’s hard to come to a new club and takes a bit of time and he probably feels a lot more settled now.
“The gaffer decides if we play three at the back, four at the back but the good thing is we’ve got a lot of variety to change formation. We played three at the back at Burnley and won 5-1. On Saturday it wasn’t going our way for part of the game so we went to four at the back and it’s good to have that variety and a lot of depth in the squad.”
Pickford himself drew praise for his impressive reaction stop to deny Pascal Gross’ goalbound effort in the opening half.
Everton carved out the better chances throughout as Richarlison, Seamus Coleman, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Bernard all threatened. In the end, it took a huge slice of bad luck for Brighton to take the points when Gross’ corner deflected off Andre Gomes into the path of Locadia who finished past Pickford from close range.
“It’s unfortunate,” said the Toffees shot-stopper. “The gaffer works really hard with us in training to get us up quick [from corners] and if that hits a Brighton player then it’s offside. It’s just unfortunate that it’s hit Andre but we created enough chances to go and score at the other end.
“As a unit, I thought we defended very well and we created a lot of chances.
“[My save] was a good save. It was point-blank and it was just a good reaction. I work hard on that in training and making those saves is nice but it doesn’t mean as much if you let a goal in and it wasn’t to be.
“We know it’s always going to be difficult to come to a place like Brighton as it was last season when we played here. They are a good side, well drilled and know what they are doing so we knew we had to be on our A-game. We had a few chances but we didn’t convert.”