Carlo Ancelotti expects Everton to be judged on their ability to maintain a high level of performance across an entire season.
Everton go to Southampton on Sunday aiming to extend their unbeaten Premier League start to a sixth game.
Ancelotti’s side preserved their undefeated sequence by twice coming from behind to draw with Liverpool last Saturday.
And the manager insists Everton must blend the positive aspects of their Merseyside derby display with an intelligent and subtle approach to succeed at St Mary’s Stadium this weekend.
“The start to the season was good but we need to show consistency in every game,” said Ancelotti.
“We showed good spirit, good football, against one of the best teams in Liverpool.
“We would like to show the same on Sunday.
“This is how you can judge the consistency of the team.
“Game by game, you have to show the same quality and spirit and football.
“It is possible to show some improvement, sometimes.
“This is what we ask for on Sunday.
“It will be a tough game.
“Southampton is a team with a really clear identity.
“They try to play with high intensity without the ball.
“They are really compact and it is difficult to find space to play.
“We have to be smart and clever with the ball.
“If we are clever with the ball, we have a chance to win the game.
“To win against them you have to be 100 per cent
“I would like to be at 100 per cent because our target is to win.”
Everton won both their Premier League away matches this season – at Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace – in addition to finishing last term on the road with victory over Sheffield United.
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With a Carabao Cup success at Fleetwood Town last month, too, Everton have the opportunity this weekend to win five straight games away from Goodison Park for the first time since 1970.
If they are to match the run compiled by Harry Catterick’s title-winning team 50 years ago they will have do it without suspended forward Richarlison.
Doubts remain over James Rodriguez’s involvement against Southampton, while Ancelotti confirmed Ben Godfrey will make his first Everton start at right-back after an excellent debut off the bench against Liverpool last week.
“The players who didn’t play a lot so far this season know they have a possibility to be important for this team and in this game,” said Ancelotti.
“There is a lot of competition to replace the players who are out.
“I have to take a difficult decision and this [reason selection is hard] is only because everyone behaved really well this week.
“Ben played a good game last week, it was not his usual position [right-back].
“We have to consider he played against one of the best wingers in the world, Sadio Mane.
“It was not an easy game for him and he was good, in my opinion.
“We tried him this week in some exercises at right-back.
“He has all the qualities to play there, I have no doubt about this.”
Another Everton defender in Michael Keane is poised for his 100th Premier League appearances for the Club on the south coast.
The centre-half is Everton’s only ever present across the competitions this season and has added three goals – including one against Liverpool last week – to a succession of authoritative and controlled displays at the back.
“He is doing really well and he scored some goals, which is really important,” said Ancelotti.
“I have to say, honestly, he played a lot of games really well.
“There was not a lot of competition [for centre-half positions] because we have some players missing… but, chapeau, because he did until now fantastic performances.”
Dissecting Everton’s away form, Ancelotti attributed his side’s flawless return this season to a combination of ambitious football and empty stadiums.
“In general, I don’t know if it’s away games are, in my opinion, easier because you don’t have the crowd... to win away is a bit easier than in the past.” added Ancelotti.
“But this team, in this moment, has more ambition and motivation.
“That gave us the opportunity to win away in the past few games.”