Mason Holgate insists Everton retain the belief they can compete with any side in the country as the Blues prepare to lock horns with in-form Chelsea on Saturday (8pm GMT).
Holgate added he is “buzzing” about the prospect of performing in front of 2,000 Evertonians under the lights at Goodison Park, with fans set to return to the stadium for the first time since March.
Everton will face a Chelsea team which has won four of their past five Premier League matches and sit third in the Premier League table.
A victory for Carlo Ancelotti’s men would take Everton to within two points of the west London outfit, however, and provide a vital shot of confidence as the Toffees embark on a run of six matches in 16 days.
“It’s going to be a very difficult game, we are under no illusions about that,” said Holgate.
“At times this season, Chelsea have looked like one of the best teams in the league.
“It’s going to be difficult but we believe with the team we’ve got – when we turn up and show what we can do – we can beat anybody.
“That’s the attitude we’ve got to have going into the game.
“We were really happy with the way we started the season but recently we know results haven’t been good enough for the team we’ve got.
“We’ve had a couple of injuries, but that’s not an excuse – we need to be picking up points.
“It’s important we turn that around with games now coming thick and fast.”
Holgate revealed his excitement ahead of supporters’ return to Goodison – and explained how the Everton team feed off the crowd’s energy.
“That’s what football is all about, the fans being there, being a part of it and lifting the tempo of the game,” the centre-back said.
“We can’t wait for them to come back and be able to do that. I’m buzzing about it.
“There will be a different feel to the game.”
Holgate has made two Premier League appearances this season, having missed the opening months of the campaign due to a toe injury.
The 24-year-old admitted his frustration he was unable to build momentum following a fine 2019/20 campaign, in which his consistently impressive performances were recognised with Everton’s Players’ Player of the Season award.
Holgate says he is nearing peak fitness again and is eager to play a key part in propelling the Blues forward this term.
“I want to make it a successful season for Everton,” he said.
“It’s been a difficult start to the season for me personally, to miss such a big chunk out of it. I’ve been back for a few weeks now and I’m feeling more like myself.
“We want to be up there among the top teams and aiming to win trophies.
“That’s the most important thing.”
Everton’s previous home meeting with Chelsea was just over one year ago, when Duncan Ferguson led the team for the first time as caretaker manager.
The Toffees won 3-1 on rousing, emotionally-charged afternoon at Goodison.
“That game one of the highlights of the season for us,” Holgate says.
“You could see how much it meant for us all to be able to get the win for Dunc in that game.
“We all love and respect him, so to see him get that chance to manage the team and then go out and get a result and put in a performance was a great day for us.
“But that was last year – they’ve got new players, a new team, and so have we.
“While we can look back at that game with good memories, it’s all about this game coming up on Saturday.”