Ronald Koeman hopes that Everton have turned a corner after his team beat Sunderland 3-0 in the EFL Carabao Cup to break out of a dispiriting losing streak.
Everton break out of downward spiral
Dominic Calvert-Lewin netted twice and substitute Oumar Niasse marked his first Everton appearance since May 2016 with his maiden goal for the club as the Toffees finally won a match after four straight defeats in which they had not scored once.
Wednesday's Third Round tie was the first of four successive home fixtures at Goodison Park for Koeman's troops, who have played away from home five times in their run of six straight defeats.
Home fixtures coming up
“It's normal for it to be difficult if you are not winning”, said Koeman, whose side meet Chelsea in the next round and are placed 18th in the Premier League table. “But let's hope... We started tonight to win at home and we have three to go, and if we get three wins, I think the whole situation will be different and I will go into the international break with a laugh on my face - and if not, maybe it will be a different face. In a difficult period, the best medicine is scoring goals and winning games. Overall it was positive”.
The Dutch coach made eight changes for Wednesday’s match, with Calvert-Lewin one of those brought in. The manager was full of praise for the England Under-21 forward after his two composed strikes, but gave no guarantees about his chances of starting Saturday's clash with Bournemouth. “He’s still only a young player and sometimes you need to protect him but he’s a good player - he will be stronger, faster, better”.
Rooney rested for Bournemouth
Koeman also explained that Wayne Rooney was missing from the squad as he was being rested, saying the decision was not influenced by the forward's off-field situation. Rooney pleaded guilty to drink-driving on Monday and was banned from driving for two years and ordered to do 100 hours of unpaid community work. It is understood he was also docked two weeks' wages by his club.
Koeman said: “It was not about his situation. I thought I needed to rest some players and Wayne was one of them. He asked me to play tonight and I declined because he will play on Saturday”.
Fourth Round ties
Chelsea v Everton
Swansea v Manchester United
Tottenham v West Ham
Leicester v Leeds
Bristol City v Crystal Palace