Everton manager Sean Dyche admits he has to find a way to encourage his players to have a more positive approach in the penalty area.
The 2-0 defeat to Aston Villa, his first at Goodison Park since taking over at the end of January, was the 10th time in 24 league matches they have failed to score – a reason for their paltry return of just 17 goals.
Everton outshot their opponents 15 to nine but managed just on five on target, the same as Villa, and wins for West Ham and Leeds saw them drop back into the Premier League’s relegation zone.
The difference was the visitors had an outlet in Ollie Watkins, who was denied by a brilliant Jordan Pickford save before his penalty breakthrough just past the hour made him the first Villa player since Paul Rideout in January 1985 to score in five successive top-flight games.
Without Dominic Calvert-Lewin, absent since Dyche’s first game and unlikely to be back for the midweek trip to Arsenal, there is no cutting edge with the 5ft 6in Neal Maupay netting just once in 28 league matches and 22-year-old Ellis Simms having made just six Premier League appearances.
Since October Everton have scored just twice from open play, with the last two goals they scored both coming from defenders.
“You have to make that happen, you can’t wait for it. That is a collective mentality, that is not about individuals that is about the whole group committed to scoring goals,” said Dyche.
“It is a strange thing, having the freedom to miss but you have to miss with conviction. You have to believe you will score.
“When people are not driving into the right key areas that’s what we reflect on and show the players.
“It’s a bizarre thing, once you change that around and the freedom comes and the ball goes into the box you believe more.”
After a shaky first 15 minutes Everton took control and while Amadou Onana saw a header tipped over and Maupay had one cleared off the line – James Tarkowski did the same at the other end after Pickford saved Watkins’ header – they never looked like scoring.
By contrast a John McGinn drive into the area won the penalty which brought the critical opening goal and substitute Emiliano Buendia’s emphatic late finish highlighted the difference as Villa ended a three-match losing run.
Head coach Unai Emery has overseen four wins in five away games since taking over but has been frustrated by their home form and wants to change that after just two wins from six.
“It’s great for our supporters. They are travelling with us and away from home we are giving them more opportunities to be happy than at home,” said the Spaniard.
“I want to share with them at home against Crystal Palace the same performances and find out what the difference is between us playing away and at home.
“We are going to find the solution and share with them our good moments at home.”
“I’m very happy today because it was a good performance; everyone was great. Being competitive like we were today, it’s not easy to beat us.”