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At some point for Everton, the lessons learned from their losses to the Big Six need to be applied rather than simply talked about.
Coming off another such chastening defeat, Marco Silva brings his Toffees to Turf Moor on Boxing Day to complete the first half of their league fixture list against Burnley.
Everton (6-6-6) took one point from their first go-round against the Premier League perennials, with three of the losses coming during their current five-match winless run (0-2-3). But Sunday's 6-2 thrashing by Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday was an eye-opener for the blue supporters on Merseyside, and for all the wrong reasons.
After grabbing a lead on 21 minutes through Theo Walcott, Everton had a second chalked off when Dominic Calvert-Lewin was called for a foul on Davinson Sanchez getting free to head Walcott's cross. Everton then gifted Spurs an equaliser six minutes later as defender Kurt Zouma and keeper Jordan Pickford had a miscommunication. That opened the floodgates as the Toffees conceded three more times around the interval and were 4-1 down three minutes after the restart.
Gylfi Sigurdsson pulled one back for Everton, but Tottenham were too classy and too good in this match as Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane completed their respective braces. For all the talk of changing the culture of Everton with his much-heralded arrival in the summer, Silva and the Toffees are actually one point worse than where they were at this point last term while on their third gaffer.
"After (our first goal) we made a big mistake and at this level we cannot concede goals like that. It is my job to realise why (it happened)," Silva told evertontv after gaining the dubious distinction of becoming the first manager in the Premier League era to give up six goals at home while in charge of three different sides. "We spoke at half-time and I said we would score goals in the second half and it was important not to concede again. But in the first few minutes we conceded and it was very difficult for us.
"It is a big lesson for us as a team."
Everton looked out of sorts in the back of their customary 4-2-3-1 formation as both defensive midfielder Idrissa Gueye and centre back Yerry Mina were out nursing injuries. It was the second straight absence for Gueye, who is rumoured to be attracting interest from French side Paris-Saint Germain in the transfer window.
Up front, Silva had Calvert-Lewin leading the line for the second straight match with Richarlison dropped back to the left wing where he started the season. Calvert-Lewin has recorded a goal and an assist in his two starts, which means Bernard may be the odd man out once more after Walcott also took his goal well.
The good news for the Toffees is the holiday fixture list allows little time for wallowing and quick opportunities to regroup.
"We have to get ourselves back on track, the confidence is still there," right back Seamus Coleman said. "We have some winnable games, but we know they are all tough. I think the manner of the goals we conceded is most disappointing.
"But we have a big game in a few days (against Burnley), so we have to pick ourselves up for it."
Burnley (3-3-12) have been trying to pick themselves up all season, but to little avail as they continue to flirt with the drop. The Clarets were unable to win back-to-back league matches for the first time this season after a 3-1 loss at the Emirates to Arsenal on Saturday and remained at the top of the drop, two points behind Cardiff City.
Sean Dyche's team were done in by a brace from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on either side of halftime. Ashley Barnes gave Burnley a fighting chance for a point by pulling one back just after the hour, and after the final whistle, Dyche tore into the officiating for what he felt was yet another missed penalty for his team and other assorted grievances throughout the 90 minutes.
"Shall we start with the 61 games without a penalty? Shall we start there," he fumed. "And a clear double-handed push in the back on Kevin Long? Ashley Barnes getting booked when their player clearly threw an elbow out at him?
"No one wants to do anything about it, so I will leave it there, no one wants to affect the diving. ... You wouldn't ruffle your child's hair when they come back from school if they'd cheated at a maths test but in a game of football it's OK. I'm talking about the morality of the game and I'm absolutely amazed where it's at."
Dyche's spleen-venting aside, the Clarets have simply been not good enough defensively all term. Their 36 goals shipped are better than only the Bluebirds and last-place Fulham, and they have conceded at least twice in seven of their last 10 league matches. For his part, Barnes is confident Burnley can right themselves and escape the drop.
"We knew we had two tough games on the bounce and now we've just got to try and pick up as many points as possible. We've still got a long way to go and we'll do that," Barnes told Burnley's official website after scoring his first goal since bagging a brace versus Bournemouth on Sept. 22. "These games are important and for everyone to get behind us and us to put in the performances we have done in the last few games.
"I am confident with that group of players in the changing room and the work we do for each other. We've still got half of the season left. I have no qualms we will get out of it."
Burnley did the double over Everton last term, recording a pair of one-goal victories. Barnes and Chris Wood scored second-half goals to rally the Clarets to a 2-1 win at Turf Moore, negating Cenk Tosun's 20th-minute marker. The teams have split eight all-time Premier League meetings without a draw.
Updated December 24, 2018