Despite a 3-1 win over Swansea City on Monday night, Everton boss Sam Allardyce wants his squad to ‘take more risks’ as the season goes forward.
The 63-year-old was not happy with his sides' first-half performance and wants it to change before Saturday’s game at home to Chelsea before focusing on the rest of the Premier League campaign.
Speaking to the media at Finch Farm, Allardyce said: "We have accumulated a number of points that have put us in a very good position but not good enough to feel too comfortable with.
”The players can’t switch off or take it easy, think we’ve got enough points now so we can chill out a little bit more - we just can’t," Allardyce continued. "We’ve just got to keep driving ourselves on and try to get as many points as we possibly can.
“I was disappointed in the first-half performance against Swansea by our negative passing. We seemed to want to play towards the wrong goal with the amount of balls Jordan Pickford was kicking.”
It was the second half on Monday night that turned the Blues’ game around after they found themselves 1-0 down before Dominic Calvert-Lewin levelled proceedings on the stroke of half-time.
“We turned that around in the second half, we moved the ball forward properly and we completely opened up Swansea, as we should have been doing in the first half,” the new Blues boss continued.
"Positive football, positive passing will get us going forward, get us in behind defences and hopefully scoring more goals.”
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Allardyce on Chelsea
Chelsea arrive at Goodison Park in what is possibly Allardyce’s toughest test since taking over as Everton boss.
His side are riding high as they look to extend their unbeaten run to seven games and the boss personally will want to extend his own run, as he has won his last two league games against the visitors.
Speaking on the difficulties of playing against Antonio Conte’s side, he said: “It’s their interchange of movement and their rotation of movement that we have to be aware of, and then be better at passing the ball when we get it, try to be better than we were at passing against Liverpool and try to be more like we were against Swansea in the second half.
“We need to get in the opposition box, get in their half and challenge their defence.”
“They’re in a good vein of form and results at the moment,” Allardyce added.
Star forward Alvaro Morata will miss out due to suspension, with Eden Hazard expected to lead the line instead of his fellow Belgian Michy Batshuayi.
“He (Conte) has talked about fatigue, which we all talk about at this time of year, yet fatigue can be overridden by mental strength. If the player is mentally strong enough to say, ‘I’m feeling a little tired but it’s not going to affect me’, and if you have a positive mental attitude, you can overcome that fatigue and drive yourself forward,” the Everton boss explained.
“We’ve got to try to do that against Chelsea on Saturday and all 11 have to play their best if we want a result. You can talk about systems as much as you want but we’ve all got to play our best first.”
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Ross Barkley has returned to first-team training with the Blues but is still a couple of weeks away from returning to action.
The 24-year-old midfielder, who was linked with a move Chelsea in the summer, took part in an inter-squad friendly following Monday’s win as he continues his return from a hamstring injury that has seen him yet to make an appearance for the Blues this campaign.
James McCarthy and Yannick Bolasie also played a part in the friendly and Allardyce explained that Bolasie could be named on the substitutes' bench for Saturday’s lunchtime visit of Conte’s side, with the chance of being introduced at some stage.
"Physically he's totally ready but from a technical point of view he will still be slightly rusty," said the Blues boss.
"But, we have to throw him in at some stage so the sooner we can do that the better. We will consider naming him on the subs bench tomorrow and if he does then we would like to get him on at some stage - hopefully because we're getting a result."