Seamus Coleman says Everton are “in a better place” following Monday’s stirring success against Arsenal and the return to fitness of a string of vital players.
Rafa Benitez’s team approached Arsenal's visit to Goodison Park conscious of the acute need to draw a line under an eight-game winless run – and summon a convincing response to last week’s Merseyside derby defeat.
And Everton performed like a side with an awful lot on the line, overcoming a series of setbacks – including two disallowed goals and falling behind against the run of play – to sustain their energy and tempo and desire to ultimately score twice in the closing stages and overturn a one-goal deficit.
Coleman is in his 13th full campaign with the Club, so hardly likely to start getting ahead of himself after one win.
But there was an acknowledgment that the victory over an Arsenal team managed by former Everton colleague Mikel Arteta was especially timely – and wholesome praise for the goalscoring duo of Richarlison and Demarai Gray.
“We pushed each other hard all week in training,” Coleman told evertontv.
“We understand the ups and downs of this profession.
“We had to fight and we had to earn the win – you don’t just earn it during the match, you earn it during the week.
“We did that and got three points.
“That is all it was – three points – but they felt very important.
“The fans wanted a reaction from us after the derby and they got it.
“It is so important, going forward, knowing what we are capable of if we work together as a team.
“That starts on the training pitch, every single day, and we got the result we needed.
“We have quality, we’ve known that from the beginning. Injuries are part and parcel of this league, you have to deal with them.
“But we are getting players back. We’re missing our striker, our main goalscorer, but we are definitely in a better place than we were three or four weeks ago.”
In the continued absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and with Salomon Rondon nursing a muscle problem, it fell to Richarlison to operate as Everton’s centre-forward against Arsenal.
The Brazilian twice felt hard done by after tight offside verdicts that denied him goals but eventually got his reward for a relentlessly industrious shift when turning in the rebound after Gray hit the bar from distance.
Gray got his angles spot on with his next attempt, whizzing a strike across stunned goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale and in off the post to spark euphoric scenes inside Goodison.
“Special mention for Richarlison up front on his own, for his work-rate and attitude,” continued Coleman.
“To be disappointed with the two goals ruled out and then come back with that goal, he is a credit to himself and to us.
“And I am so happy for Dimi [Gray].
“I see his quality first-hand every day.
“You want him to believe in the quality, as much as I believe in it.
“His quality and work-rate are top class and he deserved that goal.
“I wasn’t surprised one bit to see it go in the top corner, he is a very important player for us on and off the pitch.”
Gray would have been deprived of his moment of elation were it not for Coleman’s tremendous penalty-box block on Martin Odegaard’s goalbound shot 60 seconds earlier.
The Everton captain, however, played down his own role, claiming he was merely atoning for a measure of culpability in the derby loss.
It was a typically modest take but the Evertonians who roared on their side throughout a night of yo-yoing emotions were in no doubt over the value of Coleman’s contribution.
“The fans were incredible, from minute one to minute 90,” added Coleman.
“But I knew the crowd would be behind us… they always come here to support us, then they want a reaction from us to continue that support, and they helped us get those three points.
“I owed something to the team after Wednesday, that block was important for me and helped us get the result.
“That is what you do, put your body on the line and show up every day.
"When things are going well it is easy, when things are going badly you still have to show up and do the right things every day.
“We have to take confidence from what we produced.
“It wasn’t a smash and grab, it was a fully deserved three points.
“We will enioy the feeling, we’ve been low long enough in the changing room after games, but three points is all it is and we have to move on.”