Jordan Pickford says diligent forward Richarlison’s unflagging 90-minute match-winning stint against Chelsea provides a model for Everton’s approach over a critical Premier League run-in.
Everton are gearing up for an enormously significant fortnight, beginning with a visit to Leicester City on Sunday and featuring four further matches that will ultimately determine the Club’s fate.
Manager Frank Lampard’s team were indebted to goalkeeper Pickford for a handful of first-class saves in the priceless victory over European champions Chelsea on Sunday.
The only goal, meanwhile, was scored by Richarlison after the Brazilian maintained his furious first-half work-rate following the restart.
Richarlison, who reached his half-century of Everton goals in last month’s meeting with Burnley, pounced on momentary hesitation from Cesar Azpilicueta and continued forwards to clinically roll a finish across goalkeeper Edouard Mendy.
“It is going to be hard work over the final five games and it is on us as a team to keep working on the training pitch every day, giving 100-per-cent effort and commitment," said Pickford.
“If we do that, the quality will come.
“Richarlison worked hard for 45 minutes against Chelsea and had a couple of chances, then he got his reward with the goal in the 46th minute, because he'd continued working hard.
“Our character and effort and team spirit drove us on and, with the fans behind us like they were, it was incredible.
“Yes, we could enjoy the win – but we have to stay focused on getting results.
“That means preparing for the next match and our attentions now turn to Leicester on Sunday.”
The plaudits rained down on Pickford following an individual display against Chelsea good enough for some observers to draw comparisons with Neville Southall, the greatest Everton goalkeeper of them all.
Pickford made four outstanding saves as his goal came under fire from a Chelsea side stung by Richarlison’s opener.
The pick of the bunch arrived when Azpilicueta tried to atone for his earlier mistake, the defender turning a shot goalwards after Mason Mount’s crisp low strike cannoned off both posts.
Pickford dived to his right in pursuit of Mount’s original attempt, then speedily hauled himself up and across to repel Azpilicueta’s effort to score on the other side of the goal.
Alan Kelly, Everton’s goalkeeper coach, called the save “miraculous”.
The modest Pickford – who courageously repelled Antonio Rudiger’s bludgeoned strike with his face and frustrated Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Mateo Kovacic with athletic stops – opted against reaching for superlatives to describe his efforts.
Rather, the 28-year-old’s assessment concentrated on the galvanising effect of the Evertonians who created one of the most partisan atmospheres of this or any top-flight campaign.
“They are very passionate and we are as players, too,” said Pickford.
“To get that buzz on the bus [when fans greeted team coach on Goodison Road] is a great feeling, it touches you.
“It was about us putting on a performance and making sure the fans went home happy.
“I am a very passionate person and the result means to the world to me.
“I work hard all week to make one or two saves, or however many you need in a game.
“It is rewarding when I make them to help the team because the team helps me, too.
“It is a team effort and when I am called on, I try my best to get in the way of the ball.
“There are five games remaining and we have to keep fighting and go again.”