Pickford Reveals Everton Attitude For Final Five

Jordan Pickford says Everton will “just go for it” in their closing five Premier League games after missing a presentable opportunity to climb the table against Aston Villa at Goodison Park on Saturday.

The defeat by Villa was especially hurtful after Everton banished their Arsenal away hoodoo to rejoin the European chase eight days earlier.

Pickford acknowledged his side came up short at the weekend – but insisted the blow wasn’t fatal, with Europa League qualification still a live possibility.

The 27-year-old, who looked every inch his country’s standout goalkeeper as he repelled Villa time and again, claims Everton must target a nap hand to finish the season.

Carlo Ancelotti's team go to West Ham United on Sunday and four days later can avenge the Villa loss when they visit the Midlands for the reverse fixture.

“The fans probably play a big part in it [Everton’s normally sound Goodison form], but it’s down to us to graft and work hard and constantly give our all," said Pickford.

“We had a great result against Arsenal and wanted to build momentum towards the end of the season.

“We have five games left and need to keep pushing and try to win every game we play.

“We are making it hard for ourselves but we have to bounce back and keep going.

“It [Villa defeat] is frustrating and disappointing and we need to keep working hard as a unit and give everything.

“Next, we have West Ham, who are up there in the table.

“It is about beating the teams around us and just going for it.”

Pickford had to contend with injury issues for the first time in his Everton career this term.

He missed a handful of games in February and last month sat out three more after aggravating a problematic rib.

Granted a clean bill of health in time for a meeting with Tottenham Hotspur a fortnight ago, he’s returned with a series of immaculate performances.

Pickford's clean sheet in the 1-0 win at Arsenal was reward for flawless concentration and technique, the largely untroubled keeper producing a pair of fine second-half saves as the hosts rallied.

Aston Villa, by contrast, were a persistent threat and it needed the very best of Pickford to deny Ollie Watkins on three separate occasions and produce a first-rate double stop from Bertrand Traore.

England manager Gareth Southgate, a former Villa defender, was at Goodison, 44 days before England begin their 2020 European Championship finals campaign.

And what he witnessed from Pickford explained why Southgate recently declared that “nobody is challenging seriously to push him [Pickford] out of that [England number one] position”.

“The England manager was there but it’s about focusing on the job in hand, working hard and doing all I can,” said Pickford, who has 30 England caps.

"I give 100 percent in every game and, hopefully, that gets results for the lads and clean sheets, but it wasn’t to be [against Villa].

“I had a little injury, which is never nice, but for my form, mentally, I’m in a very good place.

“I’m working hard on and off the pitch to be the best I can as a goalkeeper and a person.

“For me, it’s about keeping working for Everton and, hopefully, that [England selection] takes care of itself come the Euros."

Everton are picking up their points away from home at a rate of more than two per game.

It’s a different story at Goodison, where manager Ancelotti’s team have claimed 19 points at 1.1 per match.

Pickford is as puzzled as everyone else about the contrast – and recognises it urgently needs addressing, with Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers due in L4 before the season finishes.

“Playing for Everton every week is great and we want to give our all for the badge and win every game we play," added Pickford.

“Our away from is better than at any time since I’ve been here but we need to get some momentum at Goodson.

“When the fans are here, what an atmosphere it is in this place.

“But we need to create our own atmosphere and keep going.

“We have two home games left and need to win both.”