Ronald Koeman insists there is no need to panic about Everton’s defensive record.
The Toffees have conceded 12 goals in seven games and scored only four, giving them a worse goal difference than every team in the Premier League except pointless Crystal Palace.
But Koeman, who could bring in Phil Jagielka for Ashley Williams, believes Everton’s difficult fixture list explains their problems and that it is unfair to judge them now.
Asked if he was concerned, the Dutchman said: “Not more than I was because I know the games that we played, then you can concede that number of goals.
“I think it’s more a question to answer half way through the season because we played against four title contenders.”
As well as their fixtures – with Everton having already faced Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Manchester United – Koeman thinks they are paying the price for European qualification.
With qualifying rounds for the Europa League starting in July and the demands of the competition, Koeman does not feel his summer signings have had a chance to bed in.
“I think one reason why we’ve struggled is that we don’t have really training sessions,” he said.
“That started already in pre-season. We didn’t have a normal pre-season, we had to play really fast, really competitive to qualify for Europe.
“The schedule is so tough. You don’t have really time to train and to improve. We don’t have one new player, we have eight or nine new players and that takes time.
“For that I’m happy that we play on Sunday, at least (on Friday) we had a normal training session with a lot of attention and focus for the game on Sunday.”
Koeman denied Sunday’s trip to Brighton was any more of a pressure game than any other fixture but admitted his side are low on confidence.
That was all too obvious in their last outing before the international break, when the doom and gloom around Goodison Park deepened with a 1-0 defeat by Burnley.
“Of course it’s difficult because everyone expected different results and a different position in the table,” said Koeman.
“In terms of confidence, we find it difficult. In the Burnley game we started really well and one shot on target it’s 1-0 and then it’s a different feeling in the stadium and from the players.
“That makes it even more difficult but we know that and we can turn it around because the players are working so hard. They deserve different results.
“You need a little bit of luck, to score a goal from the first chance. The fastest way to change the situation is to do your job every day and with a feeling of belief together.”
Brighton sit alongside Everton on seven points after a solid start to life in the top flight.
“They are really tough,” said Koeman. “I think they are doing really well. We analysed them, they have two wins out of the last two home games against Newcastle and West Brom. It’s a tough place to go.”