Leighton Baines labelled Everton FC’s defending in their 6-3 defeat by Chelsea “embarrassing” and insisted the Blues must act fast to recapture their trademark solidity.
The England defender admitted that he is as baffled as anyone about why a previously mean defence has conceded 10 goals in their first three Premier League games, but realises they quickly need to find the answers.
Baines, 29, also believes Roberto Martinez’s men have to rediscover the right balance between their attacking football, and preventing sides from finding too much space in their final third.
He said: “We need to work on it and we won’t get the opportunity to do so immediately because of the international break. We need to at the earliest opportunity though because, let’s be honest, you can’t be shipping goals like that – it’s embarrassing. It’s not how we want to be.
“It’s hard. Obviously we’re trying to be more expansive and play attacking football and we’re going wrong somewhere. It feels like it’s quite easy to get into our final third. As I say we play with out and out wide-men and I guess teams are just finding it too easy to get into the dangerous areas and get at our back four.
“It’s difficult because it brings us success as well so it’s that balance and we’re not getting it right as a group at the minute. We need to figure it out.
“It’s hard to sum up that game.
“It’s not like we weren’t expansive last season though so that’s why it’s hard to put your finger on it. For example I thought Sylvain was brilliant and Tim made a couple of good saves so it’s hard to put your finger on it.
“Yes we want to progress and play good football, which we always have done anyway. But we’ve got to have a look at our base and say is it better to start from a more solid structure? We will work it out. We’ll take this on the chin and learn from it.”
Shell-shocked Everton were 2-0 down within three minutes against the current league leaders on Saturday, thanks to goals from Diego Costa and Branislav Ivanovic.
But the Toffees rallied to pull one back before half-time and put pressure on Chelsea in the second half.
Hopes of a remarkable comeback were raised as the sides traded five goals in a manic 10-minute spell after the break.
But ultimately Jose Mourinho’s side survived an incredible match to take the three points.
Any enjoyment for the watching neutrals, though, was the last thing on a frustrated Baines’ mind. “We probably should have won the first two games,” he said.
“We were really good in both first halves. We’d have had six points going into the Chelsea game and would have had more confidence going into it. Then the start of the game was insane; conceding two, albeit the second one we’ve got him off-side, and it wasn’t given.
“That had a big effect on the game. Conceding two stuns you. We did well to provide a good response and got a goal at a good time just before the break to put us back in the game.
“Because of the characters we have everyone kept digging away and staying in the game, going for it and doing all the right things. The will was there but we just kept conceding.
“There was only a direct mistake for the last goal.
“But we’re accountable for all of them. We’ve got to fix it.”
The Blues have had their stamina questioned after conceding late goals against Leicester and Arsenal, but finished Saturday’s game at a high-tempo which Baines believes banishes fears over their overall fitness.
He added: “I don’t know if it was ever the issue.
“I don’t know if our stats were down but you could see everyone was going to the last then. You’ve got to bear in mind the flow of games.
“It’d be a bigger worry if we were down in games and looked like we had nothing in the tank.
“But in the games people questioned it, we were up and maybe got sucked into a mode of trying to defend what we had.
“It can look like you’re not running the same.
“So I’m not sure it was ever an issue but if it was you can see that when we were chasing the game everyone kept going and I don’t think it’s a problem.”
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