Jordan Pickford says his vital late save and impressive overall display in Everton’s 1-0 victory over Southampton “shows the moment I’m in” – and believes the squad’s spirit and determination can propel the Blues to European qualification.
Everton are just two points behind the Premier League top four – and with a game in hand on the teams above them in the table – after a gutsy win against the Saints at Goodison Park on Monday night.
The Toffees took an early lead through Richarlison’s fifth goal in as many games and were the more progressive side for extended periods of the contest.
When Southampton applied pressure late in the game they found Pickford in commanding form.
The England No.1’s standout moment came in the 90th minute when he made a tremendous stop to keep out Jannik Vestergaard’s close-range effort.
Pickford was also composed and authoritative in dealing with a succession of dangerous set-piece deliveries from dead-ball specialist James Ward-Prowse, while his pinpoint distribution caught the eye throughout the game as he helped launch Everton attacks.
He supplied 16 accurate long balls and found a teammate with 78 per cent of his passes – the fourth-best rate in the Everton team.
“I was used a lot in possession,” Pickford told evertontv. “I didn’t have much work to do [in terms of making saves] until they pressed us in the final 20 minutes.
“That just shows I need to be focused and be ready for anything. As a keeper, they are probably the hardest games to play in.
“You need to stay focused and you might only make that one save – but you have to make sure you do it. That just shows you the moment I’m in.
“To get a clean sheet and a win was massive. We know what a threat Southampton are. They put in a lot of set-pieces, with great deliveries.
“We knew they were going to put pressure on late in the game and we dealt with it well.”
Everton’s collective performance was notable for the resolve and desire showcased in the Toffees’ memorable Merseyside derby victory at Anfield.
Pickford believes these qualities will be key in the Blues’ push for a place in Europe.
“Our home form hasn’t been great and against Southampton we needed to show character, bravery and guts,” he said.
“When you wear the Everton shirt, that just shows the pride and passion we’ve got as a unit and as a squad to go and get those points and keep climbing that table.
“From Dominic [Calvert-Lewin] and Richarlison up front, it was all about hard work off the ball to give us the best opportunity for the win.
“I think it was a deserved win in the end.
“Everyone was fighting for each other and we got over the line. Three points was the main aim and we just keep building and building.”
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ANCELOTTI: EVERTON TEAMWORK WAS KEY
Everton will aim to continue their exceptional away form when the Blues take on West Bromwich Albion at The Hawthorns on Thursday evening (6pm GMT).
Carlo Ancelotti’s team are unbeaten in their past eight top-flight games on the road, winning six and drawing two of those matches.
“We’re in a good place,” added Pickford.
“We know what we are as a team and we know we’ll always need to keep improving and getting the best out of each other on the training pitch.
“And when it comes to matchdays, you see how much fight we have for each other to get those wins.
“We’ll now get prepared for Thursday against West Brom. That’s another massive game.
“We’re a couple of points off fourth now and we want to keep building that momentum towards the end of the season.”