Striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin believes learning to do the “nasty” parts of the game has reignited Everton’s season.
The 2-1 victory over Arsenal made it three wins in a week, having also beaten Chelsea and Leicester, with just one goal conceded and lifted them back to second in the table on Saturday night.
Injuries forced the hand of manager Carlo Ancelotti as he has had to line up with a quartet of centre-halves in his back four in those three games but it succeeded in bringing to an end a run of one victory in seven previous fixtures.
He has also had to operate without playmaker James Rodriguez during this streak of victories and it has meant playing a slightly different way to their open, goalscoring exploits of earlier in the campaign.
“We had a really good start and then a blip but we knew one win would propel us in the right direction,” Calvert-Lewin, who has 11 goals in 14 league matches, told evertonfc.com.
“It’s important we continued that momentum. We’ve got three wins on the spin and here we are.
“I thought we worked hard to a man and did the nasty bits well and that was what is important against a team like Arsenal with their quality. It was a good day all round.
“Sometimes we don’t have the ball for periods but we never panicked and took our chances when they came.
“When we’re setting up like that to let teams have a bit more of the ball I might not get many chances but it’s important that I do all the other parts well and play my part for the team.
“I’ve scored a few goals already this season and I just look forward to the next game and hopefully we’ll continue to win them.”
Having struggled to get in behind Arsenal in the opening 20 minutes, Everton made the breakthrough when Calvert-Lewin’s header from Alex Iwobi’s cross was diverted in by Gunners defender Rob Holding.
Nicolas Pepe scored an equaliser the visitors barely deserved from the penalty spot only for Yerry Mina’s near-post 45th-minute header to prove the winner.
Ancelotti has had to deal with injuries to key players like Seamus Coleman, who made his comeback as a substitute after two months out with a hamstring injury, fellow full-back Lucas Digne, Rodriguez and defensive midfielder Allan but the experienced manager has worked out a way to cope.
“We have some important injuries but I also thought we were able to adapt,” said the Italian.
“Allan is an important player for us but Tom Davies played really well. I am really pleased with the spirit of the team.
“We have not played fantastic, attacking football but the spirit of the team is really strong and I think we won these three games for the spirit we showed in the games.”
On being in contention for the top four Ancelotti added: “The project is quite clear: to compete as we are competing in this moment.
“We competed against Chelsea, against Arsenal and we want to compete until the end of the season and I think we can.”