Abdoulaye Doucoure says Everton are developing greater resolve and character – and there is a unanimous desire for performances to consistently reflect the Club’s ambition.
Midfielder Doucoure made a pivotal contribution on the season's opening day when Everton responded to falling behind by delivering a compelling second-half display to overwhelm visitors Southampton.
It was a first Premier League victory after trailing at half-time since September 2015 – while Everton gained three points from a losing position after earning five from similar predicaments in 19 home matches last term.
That stirring riposte on Saturday, insists Doucoure, was indicative of an Everton side prepared to scrap and hammer away at opponents under Rafael Benitez.
Everton go to what is sure to be a fired-up Elland Road to face Leeds United this weekend.
“This season, we have to compete in each game,” Doucoure told evertontv.
“Even if we are losing, we have to work hard.
“This season, we will have this mentality.
“We know what was missing last season – this season we know we have more leaders in the team and more experience and I think it is going to be great for us.
“[Away from home], we need to have the same form as last year.
“If we do that and change our home form, we will finish high in the table.
“Now it is a matter of doing it, not saying it.
“Actions speak more than words, I think.”
Doucoure entered his second Everton season vowing to add more goals and assists from a comparatively advanced position.
Manager Benitez has released the player from his deep-lying role and asked Doucoure to effect games in the final third – challenging the Frenchman to score at least five Premier League goals.
Sure enough, when the ball dropped at the edge of the box with 14 minutes remaining against Southampton, Doucoure was in position to pounce.
He swivelled and belted the ball into the roof of the net, tearing off in wild celebration – and receiving a caution for removing his shirt when swept up in the moment.
“I took off my shirt because I was so happy to score that goal in front of the fans,” said Doucoure.
“I should have kept it on because I took a yellow card but it was so difficult [to contain emotion].
“I know I have this [scoring ability] in my game.
“I said before the season, I could score more goals and help the team.
“The manger wants me to push and be on the second balls.
“The goal I scored was because I went in the box and was there before my opponent.
“The fans were there, which was a massive thing for us.
“To play that type of game in front of them was great for me.
“I was very surprised by the noise
“When we scored the second goal, the stadium was on fire.
“I was very happy to live that experience.”
Everton have two Premier League away matches prior to the campaign’s first international break in September – in addition to a Carabao Cup visit to Championship club Huddersfield Town next week.
That trio of away days begins with Saturday’s game at Leeds, where Everton earned one of their 11 away wins last term.
The latest visit is likely to constitute a taller order, however, with the Yorkshire club poised to welcome a capacity Premier League crowd for the first time in more than 17 years.
Everton will be backed by a sold-out travelling support – and sustained by a first-day win secured courtesy of strikes from the indefatigable Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, either side of Doucoure’s humdinger.
“The most important thing was to get the first win in front of the fans,” added Doucoure.
“The manager said to us at half-time to stay calm, everybody knows we can have some actions in front of goal.
“Everyone played his part – we came back very strongly and saw a different Everton in the second half.
“I knew if we kept pushing and working the goal could come.
“That is the mentality this season but, like I said, the actions speak more than words.”