Frank Lampard has urged Everton to understand they are in a process of improvement, but admitted there will be bumps in the road.
Everton head to Bournemouth, where they were trashed 4-1 on Tuesday in the EFL Cup, in their final Premier League match before the World Cup break.
The Toffees could have moved into the top half last week, but a defeat to Leicester City has instead left them in danger of dropping into the bottom three should they lose on Saturday and results elsewhere go against them.
Lampard, though, wants to keep things in perspective.
“It’s unrealistic to say that we’ll go from one place to the place we want to be in a short space of time. I don’t think we’re looking at (Tuesday’s loss at) Bournemouth as a gauge of where we are,” he said.
“In our position in the table, you can have a seemingly successful season and lose a lot of games. So it’s important to be resilient, understanding the process and where you want to get to. It’s a season where you get three points and are maybe one point or goal difference from the top half of the table. Of course we don’t want to be near that but the reality is we are and so are other teams.”
Bournemouth have lost their last four league games, but Tuesday’s win will have given them a timely confidence boost, and a win on Saturday would see them move above Everton.
Gary O’Neil is still only caretaker manager, though he expects a decision to be made on his future sooner rather than later.
“I’m sure on Saturday there will be a conversation on what happens next, as there is after every Saturday,” O’Neil said. “Of course, the break allows the club to decide how we move forward from this moment.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bournemouth – Philip Billing
Billing has scored four goals from just 10 shots in the Premier League this season – his conversion rate of 40 per cent is the highest among all 134 players to have had 10+ attempts so far.
Everton – Demarai Gray
With Dominic Calvert-Lewin injured again, Everton need to find another way to goal. Gray scored for the first time since August when he netted at the Vitality Stadium on Tuesday, and he has the ability to offer a real threat if he hits his best form.
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Alex Iwobi has been involved in 55 per cent of Everton’s Premier League goals so far this season (6/11 – one goal, five assists), the highest ratio of any player in the competition this term.
– Bournemouth have had fewer shots (106), fewer shots on target (42) and have the lowest expected goals total (9.3) in the Premier League so far this season. However, they’ve managed to score 15 goals, with only four sides having a higher shot conversion rate than the Cherries (14.2 per cent).
– Everton have faced more shots than any other Premier League side this season (238) and have the third highest expected goals against total so far (23.5). However, they have conceded just 14 goals, with their difference of 9.5 between xG against and goals conceded the highest in the division.
– Since the start of last season, Everton have earned fewer away points than any other ever-present side in the Premier League (16), winning just three of their 26 games on the road (D7 L16).
– Everton have never won in five league visits to Bournemouth (D2 L3), making the Cherries the side they’ve faced the most on the road without ever winning in their league history.