Everton determined to bring an end to their set-piece misery

Everton midfielder Tom Davies accepts the team’s defending at set-pieces is not good enough and conceding “poor goals” is killing any progress they make on the pitch.

In Wednesday’s 2-0 defeat to Manchester City at Goodison Park, the Toffees conceded yet another goal from a free-kick in first-half added time after denying the free-scoring Premier League champions a shot on target for the previous 45 minutes.

Everton now have the worst top-flight record when it comes to conceding from set-pieces (excluding penalties) as that was the 12th time in the league – and 17th in all competitions – they had been breached.

The goal killed the confidence Marco Silva’s side had built from an energetic and committed performance, with a second City goal, seven minutes into added-on time at the end of the match, adding to the frustration.

“We were obviously gutted. It’s not good enough,” said academy graduate Davies, captain on the night with Phil Jagielka injured and Seamus Coleman dropped to the bench.

“We are disappointed with it, of course. That’s twice now in the last two games just before half-time.

“If we keep it out and go in at half-time at 0-0 it’s a different game because we’d put in a good shift, as we did in the Wolves game (that Everton lost 3-1 on Saturday).

“We are looking to work on it and we will be back for the next game and, hopefully, we can get that sorted.

“All we can do is have a few games, a few set-plays, defending well and I am sure we will be more confident.

“All the lads are gutted because we’ve done well enough in the game but it is just poor goals again.

“Two-nil sounds comfortable but it was far from that.”

Everton have now lost eight of their last 13 league matches, winning just three, and keeping just two clean sheets since the start of December.

They have also only scored 15 goals – five of which came at Burnley on Boxing Day – during that spell.

Against City, Silva left out his top two scorers in Richarlison and Gylfi Sigurdsson, with 10 and nine league goals respectively, as he changed formation to a 4-4-1-1. It seems likely both will be recalled for an anticipated acrimonious return to his former club Watford at the weekend.

As well as stopping the set-piece goals, Silva also has to find a way of reproducing the work-rate displayed against City while still posing a threat as his side managed just one shot on target,

“We will be working hard to try to sort that out and look to go to Watford and get the three points,” added Davies.

“It’s been a tough period for us really. In all aspects, we just haven’t been able to get the performances together as a team and a group.

“Every day we’re trying to work on it and come up with solutions but it’s been hard.

“We’ve had a close few games where, if decisions or goals had gone our way, we might have got ourselves out of it but nothing has fallen our way.

“If we put in a similar performance (against Watford) we will cause them problems.”

- Press Association

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