DCL: Time To Stand Up And Be Counted

Tonight's game against Aston Villa is massively important. 

We're all aware if we drop points, it makes it increasingly harder to achieve European qualification. There's no point looking past this game or looking at the previous match – it's just the one that's in front of us that we have to try to conquer, get three points, and keep rolling.

For me, these occasions are why you why you play football. It's about big players performing in big games so it's a time to stand up and be counted.

We've put ourselves in this position [in contention for a European spot]. Perhaps we could have been further up the table and in a more comfortable position, but this is where we are and we have to accept that.

It's time for characters and personalities to stand up and stick together as a team and play well.

We’ve got a good away record and we're confident on the road.

We played Aston Villa recently at Goodison [when Villa won 2-1 on 1 May] and I think we have to get after them a bit more compared to then.

I don't know why we haven't performed how we should have at home and then gone on the road and won so many games.

You look at the previous seasons and, if we had sustained our home form from then and won as many games as we have away this campaign, we would be well up there in the table.

That's where the frustration lies. But as players, we know there's still everything to play for and we have to aim to win the remaining games of the season.

We have to take confidence from our win against West Ham and put our stamp on tonight's game.

For me, I was happy with the goal at the weekend because I've got in behind their defence and I was clinical in front of goal. I do that regularly in training but perhaps I’ve been guilty this season of being a little bit wasteful in those types of opportunities.

It was a massive confidence boost to put that one in the back of the net.

I've always been aware that it's important to stay on a steady upward trajectory of progressing and improving.

When perhaps I wasn't scoring too many goals, I was still believing that the penny would drop and I would start hitting the back of the net.

Now I am scoring goals, it's about adding more strings to my bow and more variety of goals. I've proved that I can score goals in the six-yard box and in the 18-yard box, with one-touch finishes quite often.

People used to say that I wasn't capable of scoring in the Premier League – but that just motivates me.

For me, it was just a matter of certain things coming together in my game. Maybe it was gaining more confidence when I'm on the pitch, but nothing in particular has changed. 

I always knew that I was capable of scoring goals. And when I did start do so regularly, I knew people would then ask me what changed – but I'm still the same me.

I'm still working very hard every day to improve, which I always have done.