We are pleased to be back at Goodison Park following the conclusion of the first international break of the season and the transfer window. Before the next domestic break, we have a three-week window in which we can work with clarity and concentrate on converting strong performances into points. This window comprises five games.

I believe we deserved a better start to the season. Three out of four league performances have been positive with many positives to take away, but as I’ve stated many times before, I am only concerned with reality, and the reality of our situation is that we either haven’t added the finishing touches to score enough goals to secure those points, or we’ve made a few soft defensive errors.

Games at this level are frequently decided by minute details. It is our responsibility to resolve them, and that’s what we’ve been doing during this two-week Premier League break with the players we’ve had available as a number have been on international duty.

In the past two seasons, the club and a number of these individuals have endured a period of extreme difficulty. But I’ve spoken to the team about the growth and mental toughness that result from enduring adversity.

Obviously, we’re working to ensure that this club will once again compete at a higher level, but I’ve told the players to hold on to their experiences of overcoming adversity, both as individuals and as a team, because they add to your professional understanding of what it means to play in the Premier League.

There are indications that we are beginning to use these experiences to become as resilient as we need to be. I want us to always fight, and I mean this in multiple ways: in the traditional sense of putting sweat on the shirt, running hard, and battling, but also in the modern sense of ‘fighting’ by playing with purpose and imposing ourselves in games with the correct body language and the qualities required to play and be an effective team.

We also have key players returning from injury, and we expect that, combined with the positive signs we have displayed in the majority of our matches this season, will provide us with a solid foundation from which to advance.

Reflecting on the summer transfer window, it’s no secret it was a challenging one for us, but I am delighted with the five signings we were able to get through the door. The Club presented a situation in which we must cut our cloth while remaining proactive, which I believe we did to the best of our ability. I must also give credit to Kevin Thelwell for his efforts in negotiating advantageous contracts for the club and the team.

On the outgoings side, we sold Alex Iwobi, who we were reluctant to lose, but we received a very substantial fee for a player with one year remaining on his contract, which had to be taken into account.

Demarai Gray also departed us last week, and it was unfortunate that it ended in such a manner, as I strive to keep our business in-house. As I stated at the time, we look after our players in every way possible – physiologically, tactically, technically, and in terms of their mental health – but when it comes to making decisions, the Club comes first.

I am extremely privileged to be Everton’s manager, and I am keenly aware that I am a steward of this football club for as long as that is the case. To reiterate, the badge, the people, and the club will always come before any individual, including myself, the players, and the personnel.

Today, we extend a warm welcome to Mikel Arteta, his teammates, his personnel, and everyone associated with Arsenal.

After a season of growth in which they came close to winning the league title last year, they have built upon this solid foundation by investing over the summer and recruiting several high-quality players.

Mikel and Arsenal Football Club have invested extensively and instilled a style and identity in their team during his three-and-a-half years as manager, and we are aware that we must perform at our best in order to earn a victory today.

We are confident in our ability to accomplish this, as we did so in my first game in command of the club last season. I am confident that, as you did on that day, you will be with us every step of the way again. Your extraordinary assistance is never taken for granted.


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