Dyche On Why Everton Must Draw On Positives

Sean Dyche called on his side to "maintain the belief" in their progress and says he saw plenty of elements he was looking for from his Everton side, despite a collective frustration after a dominant performance ended in a 1-0 defeat to Fulham.

The Blues controlled large periods of the 2023/24 Premier League opener against the Cottagers and created a host of chances, underlined by a final xG of 2.93, a higher figure than any top-flight side recorded last term without scoring.

Fulham substitute Bobby De Cordova-Reid landed the crucial blow on 73 minutes to snatch all three points but, speaking afterwards, Everton boss Dyche says he saw plenty to be encouraged by from his side.

"Sometimes football can be incredibly frustrating and it certainly was today, because I don't believe we deserved to get nothing from the game," said Dyche. "I thought we were a strong side today, the performance was strong on so many levels, particularly with the chances we created. 

"I know when I got here there was a lot of noise on creating chances and scoring, of course. We managed to change it enough to get the job done last season and we've built in pre-season. 

"I thought there were good signs of that - playing, counter-playing, being on the front foot, getting bodies in the box and finding quality and we did those things but we didn't finish off the key moments. 

"That's the biggest frustration, along with the referee's decision, which is a bizarre one to me."

Expanding on the controversial decision to disallow Michael Keane's first-half goal after referee Stuart Attwell adjudged James Tarkowkski had fouled Fulham goalkeeper Bernd Leno in the build-up, Dyche continued: "I don't know what the referee and VAR thought of it because Tarkowski does nothing but stand his ground.

"He's not looking to bump the keeper or get involved with him, he's almost cowering as if he knows the keeper is coming over the top of him, then he drops it on his head. 

"I don't know what he's meant to do about that. I've no clue why that's not a goal."

Everton registered nine of their 19 shots on target - compared to Fulham's two from nine efforts - and continued to play on the front foot after going behind but were ultimately unable to find a way through a stubborn Cottagers' defence.

"The important thing is to score a goal, we know that, but if you keep creating that many chances, that many quality chances, week-in and week-out, you are going to win games," said Dyche. "But, of course, we have said that before so we've got to add in those moments of true clinical finishing - and passing as well because we got into some great areas today. It's not just the finish, it's the passing as well. 

"Some of the breakaways, some of the moments, some of the quality of chances were excellent today. One of our analysts said about xG, which I'm not that big a believer in but it's still a reference point, was around three, which is high in the Premier League. 

"Inevitably, it's only a measure but we've got to look at where we were and where are we now - and that, I thought, was a big shift. Now we've got to find those moments to go and score goals.

"But there's a real strong sign there today, a strong sign of a good outfit there that is creating lots of chances and a lot of good things so we've got to maintain the belief in that."

Dominic Calvert-Lewin missed out on the Toffees' Premier League curtain-raiser, while Arnaut Danjuma  managed only a cameo appearance, with both forwards continuing to work their way back to peak condition.

On his attacking options, Dyche added: "Arnie [Danjuma] is getting fit, properly fit - he knows he's a bit behind the curve. 

"Dominic [Calvert-Lewin] will get some football this week, amongst others. 

"Dom is at the end of his rehab period, so, in the next week or two, we're going to be stronger, just by our own group and let's see if we can get something in to help us as well."