Theo Walcott believes Everton’s second-half performance in the 2-2 draw at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday showcased the positive strides the team have made during Marco Silva’s maiden campaign in charge.
The Blues went into the interval a goal down after Eric Dier’s close-range effort on three minutes.
Everton grew into the game, however, and were the more progressive side after the break – attacking with speed, imagination and purpose.
Walcott rifled in a deserved equaliser on 69 minutes, before Cenk Tosun prodded in to turn the game on its head.
The home side hit back, though, with a typically accomplished strike from Christian Eriksen earning them a share of the spoils.
The result means the Toffees finish the season in eighth position and having amassed five more points than last season.
Furthermore, the Blues’ +8 goal difference is 22 goals superior to that achieved in 2017-18.
Walcott says the ambition and authority Everton displayed against Champions League finalists Tottenham is reflective of boss Silva’s tireless work on the training pitch.
“The second half was more how we are as a team – we were more aggressive and we started to dominate,” he said.
“The manager trains us hard every day, he is very intense and I feel like we have got rewarded [for our work] towards the back end of the season. I think we can look forward to next season now.
“It’s gradual steps and I feel we’ve picked it up.
“We’ve kept 14 clean sheets this season and that shows we’re doing something right defensively as a team, as a unit. I feel like that’s a great achievement for us.
“We just have to work on that now and build on that. I think we can score more goals and dominate with the ball-players we have in this team.
“But it is definitely a progression from last season.”
After the home side got out of the blocks quickest, hitting the front through England international Dier, the Blues found their feet and could have went into half-time on level terms.
The livewire Bernard forced an excellent stop from Hugo Lloris with a low, driven effort.
When the Toffees did get their equaliser, it came after a thrilling team move. Substitute Ademola Lookman hurtled forward, before laying the ball off to Sigurdsson. The Icelander then played a perfectly-weighted pass into the path of Walcott, who took a touch before expertly finding the bottom corner with a left-footed strike.
The Blues continued to pour forward and Tosun scrambled in a second, before Eriksen had the last word.
Everton spent significant spells of the game on the front foot and rained in 17 shots during the game, compared to Spurs’ 11.
Walcott admitted his frustration the Blues could not achieve maximum points, but insists this further emphasises progress the team has made.
“We really could have got the result,’ he added. “We’re disappointed we didn’t hang on, because there was a chance to get all three points.
“The patterns of play we are working on every day in training, you can see the results of that. Particularly with my goal…that’s the type of thing we work on every day, so it’s pleasing to see that.
“It was a great move and happily I tucked it away with my left foot.
“We’ll look at the game as two points dropped but we’ll take a lot of positives out of it because it’s a tough place to come.
"They’ve got great players, it’s a fantastic stadium and arena to play in and we’re happy with how we played, especially in the second half."