Rafa Benitez wants a more composed and “precise” Everton when Watford visit Goodison Park on Saturday.
The visit from Claudio Ranieri’s team provides a quick opportunity to hit back from a first home loss of the season, against West Ham United on Sunday.
Manager Benitez insists the weekend defeat could serve as a salutary lesson if his players take note of the lapses that proved their undoing.
Everton tried to force the issue rather than remain faithful to their game plan after falling behind, says the Spaniard, while the speed and accuracy of the team’s counter-attacking didn’t hit the heights achieved in previous games.
Benitez has overseen four victories and two draws from eight Premier League matches and victory over Watford would elevate Everton into the top four at full-time.
“The main thing we learned from the West Ham game is that, even conceding, even in difficult situations against a good team, you have to continue doing things the right way,” Benitez told evertontv.
“Don’t panic, don’t rush and play long balls without controlling the second ball. There we could do better.
“The team was training quite well and the intensity was there in the sessions [prior to West Ham].
“It is not about intensity or commitment or effort.
“It is about understanding and being precise and sure everybody is ready and concentrated for every game.
“We were missing things we were doing well in other games, the dangerous counter-attacks. We gave away possession in some situations that allowed West Ham the chance to continue moving the ball and managing the game.
“Then you have to continue defending and can be more tired.
“The next game will be an opportunity to do well and, hopefully, we can play at the level we reached in previous matches.”
Benitez won his opening three Goodison fixtures as Everton manager, Southampton, Burnley and Norwich City all departing L4 empty-handed.
The hosts scored eight goals in those three fixtures and Benitez drew a modicum of solace from his side managing 15 attempts against West Ham despite falling beneath the standards they set early in the campaign.
Stats released by the CIES Football Observatory this week underline how Everton have consistently posed an attacking threat this term, while retaining a solid defensive structure. The Blues’ ratio of big chances created to conceded (2.3) is the fourth best of any club in the top-five European leagues, behind only Manchester City, Bayern Munich and Paris St Germain.
Everton, though, ceded too much of the ball to the Hammers, in their boss’ view, albeit the away side struggled to convert their greater possession share into clear openings.
The goal they did score came from a corner, which disappointed Benitez after pre-match warnings over West Ham’s set-piece threat.
But Everton have conceded just twice in the three Premier League matches that followed their only other top-flight defeat, at Aston Villa.
“We were okay defensively against West Ham but not great,” continued Benitez.
“We allowed them to have possession in some situations where we could have done better.
“Can we improve that? Yes, we must do it.
“If we do that, we will have more possession and be better in attack.
“When we regained the ball on the counter-attack, we gave it away two or three times when it could have been very different.
“There were some things we didn’t do so well but we had chances to score in both halves.
“It won’t be easy against Watford, it never is in the Premier League, but it is a chance for us to show a good reaction and do better.”