Jordan Pickford identified Everton’s defensive resilience as a key positive from Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Burnley, as he revealed the Blues' hunger to “build momentum” over a busy Christmas period.
Everton fell behind after just three minutes of the Turf Moor clash but hit back on the stroke of half-time through Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s 11th Premier League goal of the season.
The Blues exerted pressure as they hunted a winning goal – with James Rodriguez and Gylfi Sigurdsson forcing fine saves from Burnley keeper Nick Pope – while the Everton backline stood firm to keep the Clarets’ attack at bay.
England No.1 Pickford delivered a confident, assured goalkeeping display.
He was a commanding presence as the last line of the Everton defence, with two splendid saves to deny Burnley striker Chris Wood the standout moments of his performance.
“When you go down 1-0 early doors, Burnley away is a tough place to be at,” Pickford told evertontv.
“You know they’re going to keep going and be a threat at set-pieces.
“I thought our character to get back into the game before half-time was brilliant.
“You know Dom, if he gets the service, he’s on fire and will score those goals.
“We kept pushing and pushing.
“And if you can’t win, don’t lose. We take a point, move onto the next game and try to build that momentum.”
Everton kicked off the season with seven successive victories – a run which started with a 1-0 win at current Premier League leaders Tottenham Hotspur.
That remains the Blues’ only top-flight clean sheet so far this term, however.
Pickford believes the positive characteristics on show in Saturday’s draw at Burnley reflects the squad’s collective determination to improve on their defensive record.
The Toffees are back in Premier League action against Chelsea on Saturday (8pm GMT) – a match which will see 2,000 Evertonians return to Goodison Park. The game begins a spell of six fixtures in 16 days.
“Everyone wants to keep a clean sheet, starting from Dominic up front,” Pickford said.
“You can see how much he presses and how hard he works off the ball. That’s the trigger. Dominic is the first line of defence.
“It’s about being resilient and giving it your all.
“I know we conceded one [against Burnley], but you’ve got set-pieces coming in, you’ve got Dominic heading things, Michael [Keane] and Yerry [Mina] doing the same and players like Allan and Andre [Gomes] putting in blocks.
“That’s a clean sheet mentality.
“We’re showing the Everton fans how much we want to keep a clean sheet. That passion, those challenges going in, those headers being won, we know the Everton fans love that.
“If there were 40,000 at Goodison and those challenges are being won, the fans love that stuff.
“We’ve got the ability and we’ve got all the talent to cause problems in the attack. But when we’re seeing people putting their bodies on the line to defend, that’s the character we need to show.”
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ANCELOTTI PICKS POSITIVES FROM TURF MOOR DRAW
Just minutes before Calvert-Lewin’s strike in Saturday’s game, Pickford made the first of his two top-class saves during the contest.
Burnley striker Wood went through one-on-one with the Everton keeper – Pickford was alert to the danger, sprang off his line and made a fine stop with his feet.
Pickford then athletically kept out Wood’s towering header in the game’s final stages, diving at full-stretch and palming the New Zealander’s effort away.
“I’ve got to be ready for anything,” said Pickford, who has won 26 senior caps for England.
“When called upon, it’s about being there for the lads, making those saves and being in that moment.
“I feel like I’m building momentum
“I live off clean sheets. We want to win games by keeping clean sheets. I train hard with Kells [goalkeeping coach Alan Kelly] and the other keepers every day in training to aim to do that.
“I’ll keep learning and keep trying to get better.”