Gylfi Sigurdsson says Everton’s talented squad is embracing the challenge of implementing Marco Silva's expansive brand of football – and the midfielder insists his side is capable of summoning a strong finish to the campaign.
Manager Silva pointed to Sigurdsson’s clever and ambitious use of the ball as one of the catalysts for Everton scoring twice after half-time to beat Bournemouth on Sunday.
That victory followed progress in the FA Cup at the expense of Lincoln City and injected fresh life into the Blues' Premier League season, following single-goal defeats to Brighton & Hove Albion and Leicester City around the turn of the year.
Everton visit Southampton on Saturday seeking successive top-flight wins to kick-start the sort of run which saw them flirting with the top-six positions back in November. Sigurdsson, meanwhile, will be aiming to add to the eight league goals he has scored this season.
“We want to find some consistency,” said Sigurdsson. “We had five or six games [in the two months from late September] when we collected a lot of points and got up to sixth in the league.
“We need to win games even when we are not playing our best football. There is a lot of talent in this team and three points at the weekend gives you confidence and the belief you are doing the right things.
“We have always felt we are doing the right things and working hard, which is why it is so frustrating when you are not getting the results.
“I think this team is confident of finishing off the season really strongly.
“It’s been a fine season [personally] but, of course, you always want more. I would like to be in double figures for goals.
"I’m quite happy with eight but you always want more and to test yourself, to see what you’re capable of. I’d like the team to be a bit higher in the table but we will be judged on where we are at the end of the season.”
Sigurdsson is in line for his 50th Premier League appearance for the Club against Southampton this weekend.
The Icelander has started all but one of Everton’s league fixtures this term – he played as a substitute at Brighton during a period of four matches in 10 days – and has had a direct hand in 11 goals.
He has created 40 chances – ranking in the top 20 for players in Europe's five major leagues – and against Bournemouth last week delivered seven crosses as Everton steadily exerted a degree of control over their visitors.
Only France international Lucas Digne – with eight – put more balls into the box from out wide. And Sigurdsson, who is braced for a demanding encounter with a Southampton team revitalised under new manager Ralph Hasenhuttl, admitted Everton are fortunate to have former Barcelona player Digne and the evergreen Leighton Baines vying for the team’s left-back berth.
“Lucas has been fantastic, he has come to the Club and done really well,” said Sigurdsson.
“And Leighton is still a great left-back. He came in to the side in the FA Cup [against Lincoln] having not played for a long time and did well.
“We have two fantastic left-footed left-backs. Leighton has shown so much quality for more than 10 years. I grew up in Iceland watching him, that’s how long he’s been here!
“He’s been brilliant, and Lucas has done very well, which is really good for the team.”
Depending on results elsewhere, Everton could conceivably be seventh in the Premier League table by 5pm on Saturday.
For that eventuality to come to pass, Silva’s side would need to hold up their own end of the bargain by winning at St Mary’s Stadium, a difficult task against a team which has won three and drawn one of six league games since Austrian Hasenhuttl took charge last month.
“Southampton are fighting for their lives and have been in a tough position all season,” added Sigurdsson.
“They had a great win last week at Leicester and that’s not an easy place to go. They have done well recently, so it is going to be a hard game for us.
“We had a tough few weeks and some disappointing results in games where we wanted to give better performances.
“It was nice to get a win in the FA Cup and back it up with three points. The challenge for us now is to build on those two games and we will have to produce a good performance to get three points against Southampton.”