Keane: We Have Set Benchmark For Top-Six Clashes

by Paul McNamara
@Everton

Michael Keane says Everton’s irresistible second-half display against Chelsea on Sunday has set the template for future encounters with the Premier League’s top teams.

Centre-back Keane joined up with Gareth Southgate’s England squad this week “in a good place” after his own stellar contribution helped shut out Maurizio Sarri’s side at Goodison Park.

The 26-year-old is part of an Everton backline which has kept three clean sheets in its past four matches.

Keane and his defensive colleagues had to work overtime in the opening half against Chelsea to thwart Eden Hazard and Co – and lay the platform for Everton to claim their first victory over one of the current top six since January 2017.

“It was the result we needed to make the next step,” Keane told evertonfc.com.

“It will give us the confidence to go into these games against the top sides knowing we can win them.

“We have been trying to beat one of these teams at home since I came here and to do it against Chelsea was a great feeling.


“At half-time, we said: ‘We need to believe we are going to win this game’.

“And we came out for the second half flying.

“We need to take that attitude into every game against the top sides and, hopefully, there will be many more wins to come in those matches.”

Keane has flourished under manager Marco Silva this term, starting all but three of Everton’s Premier League fixtures.

Everton have recorded nine clean sheets in his 28 appearances. The 158 aerial battles won by the former Manchester United player is the second highest of any defender in England’s top division.

Only four players have made more headed clearances than Keane’s 95. His 157 clearances in all ranks 10th highest in the Premier League.

Keane completed seven clearances against Chelsea – more than any other player on the pitch – completed three interceptions and blocked two shots.


A player whose passing accuracy typically hovers around the 80 per cent mark, it all added up to Keane reporting for international duty in fine nick.

The defender, signed from Burnley in summer 2017, hopes to add to his five caps when England face Czech Republic and Montenegro in a European Championship qualifying double header in the next four days.

“I feel in a good place, things are going well at the Club at the minute and it is great to meet up with England again,” said Keane.

“It has been a long time since the last camp. Hopefully I can get some game time this week and it should be exciting.”

Keane will return to Everton for a meeting with West Ham United on March 30, with Arsenal the next visitors to Goodison eight days later.

And Keane insists the character his side summoned to remain on terms when under the pump against Chelsea will serve them well as they aim to build on a notable win.

“We know you have to go through spells like that against top teams, they have a lot of high-quality players and can put you under pressure,” added Keane.

“Sometimes you just have to see it through.

“We were disappointed with our start to the game. But we had to turn that around and it is credit to the lads we managed to do that.

“We did not start the game well, we were on the back foot.

“We spoke at half-time about what we wanted to change and came back out with the belief we could win the game.

“I thought we did well in the second half and earned the win.”

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