Sean Dyche is working to change Everton’s mentality going into away games with the aim of improving a dismal record on the road so far this season.
Everton head to Arsenal on Wednesday night as clear second favourites against the Premier League leaders, having not won an away league match since beating Southampton 2-1 on October 1.
The Emirates is perhaps not the most likely place to end that run, but with a trip to Nottingham Forest to follow on Sunday, Dyche knows the importance of changing Everton’s fortunes away from Goodison Park.
“It’s about going into these games with the belief in what we do, mainly the consistency of performance home and away,” said Dyche, who has taken charge of only one Everton away match so far, a 2-0 defeat to local rivals Liverpool on February 13.
“It’s well known that apart from the pandemic season, most clubs have stronger home form and there are all sorts of scientific reasons for that. Players have higher testosterone levels playing in front of home crowds and all kinds of different things.
“But you can still have a good away record by structuring the team, suggesting the team maybe works in different ways, but mostly mentality is important.
“You want players to go away from home with a strong jaw and a strong mentality to what it’s going to offer you and that’s something we need to build here.
“We’re in the early process of doing that. It’s about having that ability to go away and still deliver on a consistent level and with that edge because it’s important – particularly away from home – to have that edge in your play.
“At home the crowd can give you that edge. When you’re away, you have to bring it through the collective on the pitch.”
James Tarkowski’s header saw Everton beat Mikel Arteta’s side 1-0 in Dyche’s first game in charge at the start of the month, but that result has done little to shift the betting odds for this week’s encounter.
Arsenal have dropped only five points at home all season, with Manchester City the only away side to have won at the Emirates.
Dyche acknowledged few would give his misfiring side much chance of getting so much as a point in north London, and called that fact “a nice weapon to have”.
But he insisted that does not mean he saw this match, or any other, as a free hit.
“I don’t personally but what I’m suggesting is, not really a weapon, but I’m suggesting that from outside, due to the stats and facts in going to Arsenal, who are having a terrific season, most would suggest it’s unlikely you’re going to get a result,” he said.
“That can bring a bit more freedom if no one thinks you’re going to get anything.
“It doesn’t mean we don’t. We’ll be going down there certainly with our eyes on the prize, and on delivering a performance that can get something. That’s my intention and that’s what I want the players to do.”