Marco Silva says he is “really proud” of Everton’s formidable clean sheets record – and the manager is vowing his side will aim to continue their bright start to the season by going all out for victory at Aston Villa on Friday.
Everton are the only Premier League team to have banked shutouts in their opening two matches, last Saturday’s 1-0 win over Watford following a scoreless draw with Crystal Palace.
That only tells part of the story, though. The Blues have not conceded in 10 of their past 13 matches, a run stretching back to a 3-0 success at Cardiff City on 26 February.
Another shutout at Villa Park and Everton would open a league campaign with three straight clean sheets for the first time in 107 years.
“It makes me really proud,” said Silva.
“We are working really hard to achieve something like that.
“The numbers are fantastic, not just in the past two games but also how we finished last season.
“We have to keep working really hard. When you can win with a clean sheet, it is fantastic as a coach. Even if we have an attacking philosophy and like to play offensive football.
“The feeling is really good when we finish a match and haven’t conceded a goal.
“It means we have worked together and are understanding the plans and our way of defending.
“It starts up front and all of them have to be proud because of the work they are doing.
“I am really proud of what we are achieving with our defensive organisation.”
Everton will renew hostilities with Villa more than three years after the teams last met – a 3-1 away win for the Blues in March 2016.
The Midlands side has been away in the Championship in the intervening period but are back in the top-flight and rejuvenated under manager Dean Smith.
Boyhood Villa fan Smith brought his team up through the play-offs. Their opening two games this term have ended in defeat, however, Tottenham Hotspur coming from behind to beat Villa 3-1 and Bournemouth clinging on to two early goals for a 2-1 away win last week.
Silva, though, has seen plenty in Villa’s performances to be wary of the threat they will pose.
And the manager wants Everton to marry their defensive resilience with a similarly efficient display at the other end of the field.
“We are working to balance things, to try to create more in the opposite box,” said Silva, whose side would top the embryonic Premier League table with victory over Villa.
“It is up to us to get as many clean sheets as we can, then you are closer to winning matches.
“And we want to become more clinical in the other box, creating more chances and scoring more goals.
“We have to respect our opponents, they have quality. But, as always, we will go there to play to our best level and try to win.
“They had a tough first match but were close to getting a result.
“And in the second match they deserved more than the result they had.
“They have good qualities and like to play good football, offensive football.
"The game will be open, in my opinion. They try to attack and it is also our way.”
Silva can call on midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin after the Frenchman was banned for Watford’s visit to Goodison Park.
Schneiderlin’s compatriot Lucas Digne is fit to feature following the left-back's early withdrawal in that match.
Leighton Baines is in contention to return to the squad, with Everton’s summer signings Djibril Sidibe, Alex Iwobi and Moise Kean all available.
Striker Kean appeared as a substitute against both Palace and Watford.
“He is working hard and trying to show his quality to me and his teammates, trying to settle as fast as he can,” added Silva.
“We are working with him on and off the pitch to help him understand everything I want from a player in that position.
“We will keep working with him, then it is for me to decide whether he starts the match.”
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