Q&A: Tarkowski Talks Derby, Dyche Reunion And Arsenal Triumph

Ahead of Monday’s trip to Anfield, James Tarkowski sat down to discuss the Merseyside Derby, as well as how it feels to be reunited with former Burnley boss, Sean Dyche. The Toffees’ defender also reviews Everton’s victory over Arsenal, and reveals what they need to do to maintain those impressive performance levels…

Q: How are you feeling after the victory against Arsenal?

JT: I feel good. I scored, which is nice. It was a good game and we enjoyed ourselves. The fans were onside, and everyone was giving their all for the team. The lads were running everywhere and defending well. We kept a good side to very few chances and created really good chances for ourselves, and then scored from a set-piece. A good day overall.

Q: How much has it lifted the spirits of everyone around the Club?

JT: It’s nice because we haven’t won for a while, so to have that winning feeling coming back into work was nice. We felt good going into the game. We’ve just got to continue that. We know it’s hard work out there, and the manager demands a lot of us, but we get time off. You come into the building, knowing you’re going to work hard, but then you get plenty of rest and recovery with your family.

Q: Have you seen a difference this week after that win? Are people holding themselves differently, and is there a different mood?

JT: I think we just need to know not to get too carried away. It’s one win, and three points. That’s all it is really, so we’re not going to get too carried away, but we are also feeling good. Confidence is high now. We’ve proved that if we work hard and stick together, we can get results against the best teams. That’s what we’ve got to do again.

Q: The fact you won against the league leaders at the weekend. That surely proves you can beat anyone, doesn’t it?

JT: Yes, I’ve said it a few times that there’s a lot of talent here. If we can get people performing to a good level, we can compete with anyone. You saw at the weekend that it wasn’t a fluke. We didn’t just defend for 90 minutes and score one fluky goal. We created better chances than them, scored from a set-piece, and kept them to very few chances. We can be pleased with the way we worked, but we’ve got to do it all again.

Q: We saw the impact of Sean Dyche in that game, but just generally, day-to-day, what impact has he made here?

JT: We have to improve our standards everywhere, and that’s on and off the pitch. That’s what he brings, and I knew that from working with him before. You get on the grass, and you’re expected to work to your maximum level, which everyone should do anyway. He really pushes that and demands that. The lads have all responded, but we’re all enjoying ourselves.

Q: The manager often gets stereotyped, but it’s not all just about hard work and wearing shin pads in training, is it? There’s a lot of depth there too.

JT: People like to concentrate on those things, but I know him really well and understand what he’s about. The lads have taken to him really well as a person and as a manager. We’ve got to demand ourselves to keep pushing the levels. We expect a lot of ourselves now.

Q: With the manager being so clear of what you need to do, does that makes things a lot easier as a player?

JT: Yes, there’s no grey area. He tells you exactly what he thinks. He’s not afraid to speak his mind. The lads understand where they stand with him, and not just the lads who played at the weekend. The lads who didn’t play have also been working to a high level and there’s competition in the squad now. Everyone is pushing each other.

Q: The Merseyside Derby is a big one. Considering the build-up that you’ve had, and the build-up they’ve had, it sets it up nicely for an away victory, doesn’t it?

JT: It would be nice, wouldn’t it? There’s a lot of focus on them at the minute because they’re going through a tough spell, but they’ve got a lot of quality. We’re not expecting to just turn up there and beat them. It’ll be a really difficult game, and if there’s one game they turn up for, it’ll be this one. It’ll be a tough night, but I’m really looking forward to it.

Q: You have to prepare for the best possible Liverpool, don’t you?

JT: Yes, just look at us. A few weeks ago we’d lost four or five in a row, and then we beat Arsenal. You can easily turn it around. I expect the best version of Liverpool on Monday.

Q: You talk about the importance of focusing on each game as it comes, can some players become obsessed with the league table, and where they are compared to everyone else?

JT: I’ve just found sometimes you can move your focus away from yourself by doing that, and you start expecting other teams to do a job for you. I think you have to focus on yourselves throughout the season. I only concentrate on us, and I know the other players and the manager are the same.

Q: How do you think Everton can bring their best to Anfield?

JT: We’ve got to perform the way we did last time; high energy and making things uncomfortable. We made some good players have average games against Arsenal. Odegaard didn’t play great, Saka was nullified, Martinelli was nullified. They’re top players but we managed to stop them from doing what they do best. We’ve got to do that again.

Q: You’ve already played in one Merseyside Derby. What was that like?

JT: Yes, it was exciting. I don’t live in the city, so I don’t see too much of the build-up, but I like it like that. I look forward to arriving there on Monday night and feeling the energy of the crowd. It’ll be hostile, but I don’t mind it. We look forward to the game.

Q: What would it mean to everyone for you to go to Anfield and get a result on Monday?

JT: We’ve got to win but I’d like to go there and perform as well, so we can show it wasn’t just a fluke against Arsenal. We need to perform every week. I hope we perform and then the result should come with that.