Mason Holgate says Everton’s capacity to remain in control of their emotions could determine the outcome of an ongoing fight for European football.
Defender Holgate was “buzzing” to get one over neighbours Liverpool on Saturday and especially thrilled to bank a clean sheet at Anfield.
The 24-year-old nevertheless insists it is imperative Everton use their derby boost to ignite a concerted push for the Premier League’s top spots.
Holgate is confident his own performances are coming to the boil following an injury-delayed beginning to the campaign and started 12 of Everton’s past 13 league games.
The notable results in that period – victories over Chelsea, Leicester City, Leeds United and the 2-0 weekend success, among them – have been pockmarked by disappointments at Goodison Park.
“It [beating Liverpool] will lift us massively, we’ve had good results against a lot of the so-called big teams this season,” Holgate told evertontv.
“We are doing well but need to be more consistent.
“We are losing points in games we should be winning, we were disappointed to lose ground against Fulham [2-0 home defeat last Sunday] when the performance wasn’t good enough.
“We can’t get too high and think we’re unbeatable now – we’re not. Anyone can win any game.
“And when we lost to Fulham we couldn’t get too low and act like we were the worst team ever.
“We have to stay level-headed and keep going.
“I am coming into it [reaching form] a bit more.
“I am not where I’d like to be and hitting it consistently but I can only work as hard as possible.
“I have not done too badly but am not near my normal standards.
“It is hard to come to the season part way through but I am feeling stronger and fitter now and am happy the way things are going
“Hopefully, I can keep it going.”
Holgate excelled on the right of a three-man defence as Everton quietened Liverpool’s celebrated forward trio.
He has been employed as a right-back more often than not this term but acknowledged a preference for the central role in the week prior to going to Anfield.
The Yorkshireman, who is four appearances short of his Everton century following a transfer from Barnsley in August 2015, worked efficiently in tandem with fellow defenders Michael Keane and Ben Godfrey.
That trio's speed and anticipation and physicality quashed the three-pronged threat of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino.
Holgate made a splendid goalline interception to deny Mane a clear sight of goal as Everton marched to the win which moved them level on points with Liverpool in sixth.
Everton are five points off fourth and have one game in hand on the six teams ahead of them in the Premier League standings.
“There was no hiding how long it’s been since we won at Liverpool,” said Holgate, whose team are next in action when Southampton visit Goodison next Monday.
“We are under no illusion how much it means to the fans.
“For all of us, it is a massive weight off our shoulders and we are buzzing to get it over the line.
“There is no denying the quality of Liverpool’s front three, so to get a clean sheet away from home against them is massive and we are over the moon as a defensive unit we have done that.
“There were so many times we felt we would get it [win over Liverpool] but then they’d score in the last minute, or something wouldn’t go right, or it would end 0-0.
“To finally get a win is massive and we are all buzzing.
“I have been here six years and know exactly what it means to the fans – and what it means to me.”