Sean Dyche believes key moments at both ends of the pitch proved decisive in Everton’s 2-0 loss at Aston Villa despite a performance with many positives for the Blues.
After back-to-back victories over league leaders Arsenal and Leeds United at Goodison Park, Dyche tasted his first home defeat as Everton manager following Ollie Watkins’ second-half penalty and a late strike from Emiliano Buendia.
That did not tell the full story, however, with Dyche’s team putting in another display full of energy and attacking intent that carved out numerous chances, with Neal Maupay having an effort cleared off the line and Amadou Onana’s close-range header being tipped over the bar.
Dyche felt those missed opportunities – and the two chances offered to Villa leading to their goals – ultimately left the Blues empty-handed.
But ahead of a midweek trip to Arsenal and then an away clash at Nottingham Forest next Sunday, the manager wants his players to draw on the plus points that have been evident since he took charge.
“[The result] was harsh on a performance level,” Dyche told evertontv. “I think the fans played their part in the performance, and I think that’s important moving forwards.
“They get a penalty out of almost nothing and it was against the run of play. I mentioned already that we have to strike the ball with conviction, and if it misses, it misses. I want them to finish with conviction and I think we’re just lacking that in the key moments. We created enough today to score a goal. That doesn’t always guarantee a win but it gives you a good start. I thought today, we did enough to do that.
“Our commitment is good, and I think we can see that. The shape of the team, and energy of the team is good. I always say to them to be the next man who makes a difference. It’s everyone’s job to score, so it’s everyone’s responsibility to take that on.
“We have to be careful when analysing the game because not a lot went wrong in that performance. Two killer moments go against us, but there was a lot of good things we did. We need to keep that going but add in the big moments, and make sure we get them right at both ends of the pitch.
"We’ll reinforce the aspects we need to on Monday through a de-brief. We’ll speak to the players about it, and about the positives. We also have to make them aware of some of things we didn’t do well.
"There’s a lot of good work on the training ground, and there’s a lot of commitment being shown. The work ethic’s been great, and the taking in of new information. As I've said, we've crammed a lot in to a short space of time. The commitment has been great. We have to stick with that, and then, add in the big moments, of course."
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DEPARTING MAIER & SEVECKE THANK BLUES
Dyche, who confirmed striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin is unlikely to feature against Arsenal at the Emirates on Wednesday night, praised the performance of Dwight McNeil, with the forward – who Dyche previously worked with at Burnley – putting in an impressive shift with his relentless work-rate and numerous crosses into the penalty area.
“I thought Dwight McNeil was excellent today,” Dyche added. “He kept working and he probably deserves something for his performance. We have to keep knocking on the door and eradicate the soft moments.
“No disrespect to Burnley, but Dwight’s come to a bigger club, it’s a different environment. He’s still relatively young and he’s played a lot of football for a young player. It’s probably been a bit of a fresh start with me coming in, and some familiarity. The crowd can see what he’s doing and they get behind him, and you can see he’s becoming the player that I always believed he was. We want him to keep up that level of performance.”