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Toffee Talk

Football: Toffee talk - We're a young, consistent team with great potential

In this exclusive column, the Everton midfielder speaks about returning after a previous loan spell, the club's mindset and his team-mates

Everton have had two really good results back-to- back against Manchester City that gives the team confidence as we look ahead to our game against the champions, Chelsea, at Stamford Bridge.

As a team, we have also been very consistent in the quality of our performance for virtually the whole of the season. Sometimes our results have not reflected that quality or the way in which we have controlled games, but we believe in ourselves as a team and we know that if we keep doing the right things we shouldn't fear any team. That is our mindset and we feel very secure in that belief.

I have felt great since I came back to Everton from Barcelona last summer. Everton has become my home. When I was here for the first time, I enjoyed a really great year. I felt loved by the Evertonians. So I was delighted to return to Everton.

The noise of Goodison Park, the passion of the Toffees, the Z Cars theme blasting out as we walk onto the pitch - Everton is a fantastic club and I feel so much at home.

We are still a young team but we have grown as people. Romelu (Lukaku), Ross (Barkley), Seamus (Coleman), John (Stones), James (McCarthy)- we are all very young but we have a lot more experience now than we had two years ago and the team is now better.

Every game is tough. Every opponent is tough. And this is the challenge. To work hard, to adapt, to defend, to attack - I love it. The test is every week and it's a great test of will and character as well as a test of skill and technique.

We also have great potential, as we have shown in recent games against Tottenham and Manchester City, not only in the Premier League on Wednesday night at the Etihad but also in the previous week's League Cup semi-final first leg at Goodison when we beat City 2-1. Rom scored the winning goal that night, so that we will have a one-goal advantage in the second leg at the Etihad.

Rom has been in fantastic form and, with 19 goals already this season, he is one of the most prolific goal-scorers in Europe. I say every week that I am so happy to play with the likes of Rom.

As a player, he is an animal. Off the pitch, he is very relaxed, very intelligent. He is a terrific team-mate and I want him to score lots more goals this season.

I am happy if I can play a part in that. I want to get more assists for Rom and I want to get more assists for the team.

Nothing makes me happier than when I can contribute an assist or if I can score a goal myself to make a difference. Goals win games and we are a very attack-minded team. No team in the league have scored more goals than Everton from open play.

For Rom and me, it is very natural. When I get the ball, the first thing I do is I look for him. And, as I say, he is an animal, a big player, a player who wants the ball, so we are always going to have a great relationship on the pitch.

Sometimes we work on things but when you are working with a great player, as Rom is, it's a natural understanding that develops. I speak with him a lot and perhaps I say, 'Rom, go to the near post', or, 'Go to the space', because when I take the ball, I look for him. When you play with great players, it's so easy.

I love the way the game is played in the Premier League. I never had experienced anything like it when I first came here. It was so different to La Liga. But I loved it and I love it even more now. Every game is tough. Every opponent is tough. And this is the challenge. To work hard, to adapt, to defend, to attack - I love it. The test is every week and it's a great test of will and character as well as a test of skill and technique.

And to hear the Toffees chanting, "He's Magic …" is incredible, an unbelievable feeling. It makes me want to win for all of our fans. The support for our team is always great and it will be the same at Chelsea.

I expect this to be another tough game. It is a game we want to win and the belief we have in ourselves means we know we can.

•Everton are proud of their association with Chang, currently the longest-running main sponsorship in the English Premier League.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2016, with the headline 'We're a young, consistent team with great potential'. Print Edition | Subscribe