David Unsworth insists Everton will stay true to their attacking principles against Crystal Palace – but is concocting a game-plan to “neutralise” Palace’s battery of menacing frontmen.
Unsworth leads the Toffees at Selhurst Park on Saturday, a fortnight after masterminding an exhilarating Goodison Park victory over Watford, which lifted Everton up to 15th in the Premier League table.
Palace are rooted to the foot of the division but have improved markedly under the tutelage of former England boss Roy Hodgson, who replaced Frank de Boer early in the campaign.
The south London team have claimed four points from their past four games, with the standout result in that mini-revival a 2-1 triumph over defending champions Chelsea.
Unsworth acknowledges the threat Palace will pose in the likes of electric wingers Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend, and fit-against forward Christian Benteke.
But the Everton boss is calling on his team to conjure a repeat of the “brave and positive” performance which resulted in the Toffees scoring three goals in the final 23 minutes to beat Watford 3-2.
Asked how he would seek to carry the momentum from that match into the encounter with Hodgson’s team. Unsworth told evertontv: “We will give the message to the players of what they did well in that half-hour spell against Watford, when we were on the front foot, flying into tackles, brave and positive – and there was a sense of freedom I had not seen in the previous couple of weeks.
“It might be a game-changing result going forward – I hope so, and I hope the players take confidence from that game… the win and the fans' reaction at the end.
“Those are the types of moments you play football for – and it is and when you realise Everton is as special as it is.
“No (we will not compromise our style) but there is always a game-plan. Crystal Palace have good individual players and I am sure they will be looking to play on the front foot as well, so we have to neutralise that and stop that threat - but also come up with something ourselves.”
Unsworth’s smart use of his substitutes was integral to Everton's comeback success over Watford.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin came off the bench to score, while Ademola Lookman created a goal for Oumar Niasse and Leighton Baines’ match-winning penalty was earned by Aaron Lennon.
Unsworth admits the respective contributions towards the victory of attacking trio Calvert-Lewin, Lookman and Lennon are providing food for thought ahead of the clash with Palace – and insists he “loves” being in a position where his every move is open to scrutiny from pundits and supporters.
“That is why I do it, I love it,” said Unsworth. “It is the reason I have been coaching for the past nine or 10 years.
“You make those decisions every day in training and going into games. You make those decisions in Under-23 games – there’s just not as many people watching!
“It is great, I love it, it gives you such a buzz when you get it right. It is fantastic. Then when you see good decisions being made and winning games on the back of them, it is perfect – and it was a perfect end to the Watford game.
“That was an incredible night and the fans left with a smile on their faces, which they have not done as much as I have wanted this year.
“We want to give them those special moments every week.
“We think (about tactics) all the time, I can assure you. We are forever detailed and preparing for the next game. At the beginning of that game we picked a team we thought would cause trouble for the opposition and we will do that again this week.
“Certainly, a lot of players did themselves no harm with their performances against Watford.”