Rafa Benitez is adamant Everton will “stick together” and relish the challenge of a relentless run of fixtures over the next six weeks.
Manager Benitez’s side lost their first fixture after this month’s international break, going down 3-0 at champions Manchester City on Sunday.
The Spaniard admitted Everton missed composure and precision on the counter-attack against City – and they weren’t helped by the enforced withdrawal of lightning forward Demarai Gray after only 17 minutes.
Everton, who were without first-choice number 9 Dominic Calvert-Lewin and midfielder Abdoulaye Doucoure against Pep Guardiola’s team, remain 11th in the Premier League standings.
They go to Brentford in seven days, ushering in a period of nine fixtures in 35 days, before home meetings with Liverpool and Arsenal.
“We know that we have to go to January in a good position, then with players coming back it will be easier for us to compete against anyone,” said Benitez.
“In the meantime, we have to try to stick together, be strong and then be sure we approach the games with the confidence that we can win and get points. Then, go to January with a good position in the table.
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HOLMGAARD TWINS' EXCITEMENT TO REPRESENT BLUES
“Clearly it has to be different [against Brentford]. Today it was about having to defend with intensity and trying to play on the counter-attack. In the end it was not working because the other team was good. If you play against Brentford, it has to be totally different.”
Everton resisted City pressure for 44 minutes but fell behind when Raheem Sterling clinically met a fabulous defence-splitting pass from Joao Cancelo.
The visitors maintained their policy of trying to catch City on the break and intermittently threatened to undo the home team.
But City midfielder Rodri walloped home from 30 yards nine minutes after the restart to give Everton a mountain to climb, a task heightened by the absence of Gray, who pulled up with a muscle problem.
Bernardo Silva profited from a ricochet in the box to prod home City’s third on 86 minutes.
“Demarai Gray is one of our most dangerous players on the counter-attack and he had one chance one-v-one with a defender, when you don’t have that [Gray's threat] you are missing something, but with the players we had up front we had to create more,” said Benitez, who will be without Richarlison at Brentford after the Brazilian attacker received a fifth booking of the campaign against City.
“The goal at the end of the first half changed things, you don't want to concede, but when you concede you don't want it to be at the end of the first half. With the quality they showed for the goal, it is difficult to stop that.
“When you don't concede and have a clean sheet in the first half, you can approach the second half in another way. Conceding at the end is not easy for the mentality of the players but we still started well in the second half.
"But [when trailing] you have to take more risks and are more exposed and they had more chances on the counter."
City, aiming for a fourth Premier League title in five years, moved within three points of the summit following their victory.
But Benitez rejected the idea that the identity of Everton's conquerors made defeat easier to swallow.
“I don't like to lose against anyone, it doesn't matter about the name of the team," added the former Valencia boss.
"You have to be a threat on the counter-attack in these kinds of games, we had our chances without creating too much, and it it a matter of time after defending [for prolonged periods] before you make a mistake.
“We tried, we had two or three situations in the first half when we didn't do well enough on the counter, it was just defending, and normally you lose these games.”