Rafael Benitez admitted his surprise that Everton have started the season so well after taking another three points against Norwich City on Saturday.
The Toffees finished 10th last season and looked to be building some momentum under Carlo Ancelotti. But the Italian tactician jumped ship when Real Madrid came calling in the summer. Benitez was not a universally popular choice to step into the Goodison Park dugout due to his Liverpool connections.
However, the Spaniard has made a superb start to life in the blue half of Merseyside. His side sit fifth in the top-flight standings and are one of four clubs on 13 points.
Only rivals Liverpool have taken more as their 3-3 draw with Brentford sees them at the top of the table. The Blues have won four and drawn one of their six games to date.
The only loss was a 3-0 reverse away at Aston Villa last Saturday. They were too good for the Canaries, with a goal in each half enough to earn all three points.
Andros Townsend gave the hosts a 29th-minute lead from the penalty spot after Ozan Kabak had fouled Brazilian Allan. Abdoulaye Doucoure made sure of the points on 77 minutes.
Everton have now won their first three home games of a top-flight season for the first time since 1989-90. Benitez was delighted but stressed that nobody is resting on their laurels.
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“They told me before, I didn’t know, so I’m really pleased,” he told BBC Sport. “We have to emulate what the team did last year, not just winning at home but away also. So hopefully we can continue winning against Manchester United [next week].”
Benitez expects more after encouraging start Everton kicked off the season by beating Southampton 3-1 on home soil. They then took a point in a 2-2 draw with Leeds United at Elland Road.
A 2-0 triumph at Brighton was followed by a 3-1 home win over Burnley before the disappointing loss to Villa. It was important to bounce straight back and they did just that, with the Canaries yet to pick up a point in 2021-2022.
Benitez felt the signs were good during pre-season. But the former Newcastle chief confessed that their points tally has left him shocked.
“Watching them in training, I expected that we could do well, but in the Premier League you never know,” he added. “I’m a bit surprised but I’m quite happy and I think that we will get better.”
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