Rafa Benitez is viewing Everton’s visit to Brentford on Sunday as an opportunity to breathe fresh life into a topsy-turvy campaign.
Manager Benitez won four and drew two of his opening seven Premier League games in charge and, following a 1-1 draw at Manchester United on 2 October, Everton climbed to fourth in the standings.
Progress has been hampered by injuries through the spine of the team, however, and Everton enter this weekend’s round of fixtures in 11th position.
Benitez’s side are separated from the top six by only four points, nonetheless. And rather than tentatively look over his shoulder at a Brentford team two points behind Everton, Benitez is directing his focus onto the potential uplift – materially and mentally – victory in west London would supply.
“It is important to win any game but this is the first one we have [to begin a winning run],” said Benitez.
“If you think about just winning one game, we could be really close to the top six.
“That is the situation, there is a lot of teams very close together and one game can change everything.
“Hopefully, this game will change everything for us and we will be higher in the table and with more confidence for the next ones.
“We did so well at the beginning of the season that everybody was expecting we would continue at this level.
“We have missed players through injuries and it affected us. Too much, maybe.
“We need to be sure we have these players coming back and then we have the group with the same attitude and mentality as the beginning of the season.
“It's a question of time before you win the first game then, hopefully, the next one, then the confidence comes back.”
Benitez offered encouraging news on Abdoulaye Doucoure, revealing the French midfielder is in with a shout of featuring against Brentford six weeks after sustaining a metatarsal fracture.
Demarai Gray, meanwhile, is in a race against time to play after injury forced the winger off early at Manchester City on Sunday.
There will be no Yerry Mina or Andre Gomes. In attack, Richarlison joins Dominic Calvert-Lewin on the sidelines after collecting a fifth booking of the campaign against City.
Benitez is urging his Brazilian forward to wise-up to avoid future suspensions. Meantime, the door is ajar for either Salomon Rondon or Cenk Tosun to come in and lead the line.
“We have two experienced players, Tosun and Rondon, available, and a young player [Ellis Simms] who was injured and is coming back,” said Benitez.
“Normally, for these kinds of games, it is for people with experience, so the two senior players have more chances ahead of the young player.
“Anthony Gordon is a young player and people were asking for him to play.
“After two or three weeks, he was mentally ready, he is a player with quality and is playing.
“When the players are good enough and mentally ready, they can play.
“But in some positions you don’t have these players, or the young players have potential but not the experience and mentality when it is a difficult situation.
“Richarlison knows it is too early to have five yellow cards.
“He has to realise he can’t react and needs to stay calmer in the game. He is a very good player and important for us. He is a threat for defenders if he stays focused.”
Brentford began their first top-flight season since 1946/47 like a house on fire, winning three and drawing three of their opening seven games.
It’s been tougher going of late with one point from five matches, albeit that was earned in a terrific 3-3 draw at Newcastle United last week.
“They started with a lot of confidence, with intensity, playing well and got some points,” added Benitez.
"Little by little, everybody knows you better, then it's more difficult to surprise anyone.
“But these kinds of teams have the advantage of working the same way for a while.
“They know exactly what the manager wants, and the players know each other really well.
“We are playing against a good team at their home but we have to compete with them and push them to get the three points.”