Roberto Martinez believes Everton continued to show improvements in their defensive work in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Crystal Palace.
Romelu Lukaku scored the only goal of the game in the second minute at Selhurst Park as Everton ended a six-game winless run to move up to 12th in the table.
Martinez’s side have been criticised for sloppy defending this season but have now kept two clean sheets in a row following last Monday’s goalless draw at home to West Brom.
Their defensive display against Palace was typified by Phil Jagielka’s goal-line clearance to deny Dwight Gayle an equaliser, and Martinez believes his side have now turned a corner after rediscovering their “intensity”.
“The concentration and intensity in our defending was fantastic,” Martinez told evertontv. “Joel [Robles] in goal and the two centre-halves, every player had an incredible focus. It was a well-deserved clean sheet.
“Even though we scored so early, we defended really well. You need to get the balance right against a team that can put the ball in the box. They challenged every ball and I thought we stood up really well.
“When you don’t get decisions or breaks and it seems like you have to be perfect to get that result, it helps when you defend with concentration. If you take errors away and don’t allow the opposition to get much from their play, it gives you a good platform to perform.”
Everton face Liverpool in a Merseyside derby at Goodison Park next Saturday in a late kick-off.
The Toffees are 2.80 to win the derby, while Liverpool are slight favourites at 2.27.