Keane: Everton Need Focus To Beat Top Team Chelsea

Michael Keane says Everton must replicate the intensity of their recent performance against Liverpool to claim a top-six scalp when Chelsea visit Goodison Park on Sunday.

Everton went six unbeaten in the Premier League on their own ground earlier this term.

And after contesting a breathless home Merseyside derby draw a fortnight ago, Keane is eager for his side to finish the campaign on a similarly prolific note at home.

Equally the centre-back, named this week in Gareth Southgate’s latest England squad, is hoping to sample a repeat of the partisan atmosphere which accompanied Liverpool’s visit – and he is determined to give his team's supporters plenty to shout about.

Everton drew the reverse fixture with Chelsea 0-0, a repeat of the scoreline when the teams met at Goodison last term.

“We have played really well against Chelsea and defended strongly,” Keane told evertontv.

“They are a good team with a lot of top-quality players, so we will have to be really on it like we were against Liverpool.

“Hopefully we can score a few goals, as well, and win the game.

“The derby was the best atmosphere I’ve played in at Everton. When the fans are like that it really helps us – but we know we have to play well to get them behind us even more.

“We will do everything we can to make sure we do that, we are really hungry for a win and need to beat one of the top teams at home – and we want to do that on Sunday.”

Keane has started all but three of his side’s Premier League games this season, missing two matches with a head injury early in the campaign and being rested from one prior to the busy festive schedule 

He will have a new partner in the middle of defence against Chelsea, with Kurt Zouma unavailable against his parent club.

But the 26-year-old insists whoever starts alongside him – Yerry Mina and Phil Jagielka are the frontrunners for a place in Marco Silva's side – will bed in without any issues.

When Everton captain Jagielka featured in the recent 3-0 victory over Cardiff City it represented the 26th time the duo had been on the field together.

Keane has played with Zouma on 23 occasions and Mina 11, including when the Colombian helped Everton shut out Chelsea on his full debut in west London back in November.

“Everyone I have played with this season has been great,” said Keane, whose side still have big guns Arsenal and Manchester United to welcome to L4 this term.

“If I am picked, I feel comfortable with whoever is next to me.

“The lads [Jagielka and Mina] have been patiently waiting for their chances and at least one of them will probably get an opportunity on Sunday.

“I have played with the other centre-halves a good number of times and they are all slightly different players. It takes a bit of time to get used to each other – and I feel we have now.

“I am sure they will be raring to go and, hopefully, we can do the fans proud and get a win.”

Keane will join up with England for European Championship qualifying matches against Montenegro and Czech Republic following this weekend’s Premier League clash.

He won his fifth cap in a Wembley friendly victory over USA four months ago, Three Lions manager Southgate recognising the defender’s assured form under Everton boss Silva and recalling him following a 13-month international  absence.

And Keane is hoping to report to St George’s Park reflecting on a positive period for his club.

Everton claimed four points from their matches with Cardiff and Liverpool and were in control for prolonged spells at Newcastle United last Saturday before losing late on.

“We felt we were cruising for an hour, they did not cause us many problems at all and we were playing really good football,” added Keane.

“We were disappointed for all the fans who came to watch us.

“But I do feel we have turned a page in the past three games. We played really well at Cardiff and against a top side in Liverpool. And we did well until the final 20 minutes at Newcastle.

“You have to take positives from every game and learn from the mistakes you make.

“We have to look forward and always try to improve.”

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