McNeil On Confidence And 'Fresh Start'

Dwight McNeil says he is determined to build on an impressive individual and collective display against Arsenal after offering an honest assessment of his form in the first half of 2022/23.

The 23-year-old winger was one of Everton's standout performers in the 1-0 win over league leaders Arsenal, providing the assist for James Tarkowski's all-important goal as Sean Dyche's reign as Blues boss got off to a perfect start.

McNeil says he viewed the match under his former boss as a "fresh start" having suffered with a lack of confidence so far this campaign.

"It was amazing," he reflected with evertontv afterwards. "I thought we were on the front foot right from the start and we knew they were going to be a good team, obviously they're top of the league and doing well. 

"We know we've been on a difficult run and we just wanted to have a fresh start and we did that for the fans and for each other.

"[The key messages beforehand] were about working together, working as a team, everyone knowing their jobs individually and collectively and credit to all of the lads today because we did that. 

"We showed it out there on the pitch and we got the result that we needed and we deserved.

"I knew so far this season I hadn't been at my best and low on confidence, but with the new manager coming and still half a season to go, I saw it as a fresh start. [It is about] getting back to basics and building from there - my confidence came from there. It was a good team performance as well. 

"I definitely want to build on this now, especially having played like that against a team as good as Arsenal. Now we need to focus on the big game that's coming up with the derby. We have to be ready as a team."

Discussing Tarkowski's goal and the feeling of familiarity surrounding it, McNeil continued: "It was just written, wasn't it?! I'm buzzing for Tarky to get his first goal for the Club and I'm happy that I was the one to assist him. It's a good day all-round."

McNeil also revealed the importance of a key team meeting with Dyche and his staff during their first week in charge, where players were reminded of their talent and potential as a group.

"We've got amazing talent here," he added. "There are some amazing players. We had a meeting about that - about how good we are individually and how good we can be as a team. That spurred us on a little bit this week as well in training and it's shown out there on the pitch. 

"It's definitely [the blueprint moving forwards]. Work hard individually and collectively. That's what's required to play under this manager. 

"We did that today and I think we created the better chances. 

"It's a credit to the manager and staff because they've only had a week to get to know everyone and credit to to the lads for taking onboard what the gaffer requires and the way he likes to play. 

"We've shown that today but the most important thing now is to build on it and get more points on the board, starting with a big derby coming up."