Everton manager Sean Dyche wants Goodison Park to be a “horrible, hard place” to help the Toffees to safety ahead of their vital home clash with fellow strugglers Leeds United on Saturday.
Dyche replaced Frank Lampard last month with the club second-bottom of the Premier League, and beat leaders Arsenal at home in his first game in charge to boost their survival chances.
A derby defeat to Liverpool at Anfield followed, but Dyche hopes returning to Goodison Park can push the Toffees to survival.
“Fans are important at Goodison making it that horrible, hard place for opponents to come and play,” Dyche told reporters. “Every game is a must-win in the Premier League. We’ve just shown that. People could have written us off for the Arsenal game but we went on and won.”
Managerless Leeds sit just a point and a place above Everton in 17th, but interim coach Michael Skubala has overseen two positive performances against rivals Manchester United, albeit only picking up a point.
Skubala believes Leeds are heading into Saturday’s game with confidence.
“We’re excited to try and get three points. That’s the most important thing,” he said. “The group were pleased with their performances against Manchester United, we have to tidy things up but there has been positive feelings.”
Everton will once again be without striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin, who played an important role in the victory over Arsenal but was absent from the Liverpool defeat.
“The root of the problem is pretty easy from a medical side of things,” Dyche explained. “Now it’s just a case of time. While he’s out, we want him to do work to strengthen the whole body, not just the injured site.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Everton – Alex Iwobi
The former Arsenal man leads the Toffees with six Premier League goal involvements this term, scoring once and adding five assists. Everton will once again look to him to be one of their key attacking threats against Leeds.
Leeds United – Patrick Bamford
The striker netted 17 goals in 38 appearances in Leeds’ first season back in the Premier League, but injuries have hampered his availability and he has scored just three times in the competition since that campaign. Can he get back among the goals and fire Leeds to safety?
KEY OPTA FACTS
– Everton have lost just one of their last 10 Premier League games against Leeds (won five, drawn four), going down 1-0 at home in November 2020.
– Leeds have failed to win any of their last three Premier League games against sides in the relegation zone, drawing two and losing one. The Whites had only failed to win three of their previous 14 such games following their return to the division in 2020 (11 wins, two draws, one defeat).
– Since Leeds beat Chelsea in August, they have won fewer Premier League games than any other team (two wins, six draws, 11 defeats) and only Southampton have won fewer points (11) than the Whites (12). Should they fail to win this game, it would be their fewest league wins across a 20-game span (two) since a run of two wins in 20 games between February and August 1947.
– Everton are the lowest scorers in the Premier League this season with 16 goals, though these have come from 10 different goalscorers (excluding own goals). Only three players have scored more than once for the Toffees this term, with one of those (Anthony Gordon, three) no longer playing for the club (Demarai Gray three, Dwight McNeil two).
– Dyche has never beaten Leeds in the Premier League in four previous meetings, all while as Burnley manager (one draw, three losses). He has beaten all 30 other teams he has faced in the top-flight apart from the Whites, and could become the sixth manager to face 30 or more teams in the Premier League and beat them all, along with Arsene Wenger (46), Alex Ferguson (44), Jose Mourinho (38), Brendan Rodgers (36) and Gordon Strachan (32).