Morgan Schneiderlin has acknowledged that Everton need to play better if they are to continue to make up ground on the top seven.
The Blues ended the calendar year with Sam Allardyce's first defeat as manager after Ryan Fraser's deflected winner handed Bournemouth a 2-1 win at Vitality Stadium this afternoon.
The loss came on the heels of two dull 0-0 draws that have stalled the early momentum established when Allardyce first took over from David Unsworth at the end of November but while a general lack of attacking prowess has been a problem, it was defensive vulnerability that hurt them today.
James McCarthy marred his return to the team with a poor back-pass that led to the Cherries' opener but though Idrissa Gueye equalised early in the second half, Fraser took advantage of lapse defending to plunder a late goal.
“I think when we equalised we expected to keep the ball better and be more of a threat to them but we didn't do so and we were exposed to their play,” Schneiderlin explained after the game.
“Then there was a deflection for their goal which was frustrating but we need to pick ourselves up, keep going to try and correct the things that are going wrong and improve.
“[Their first goal] was bad play from us but we can't blame the player who lost the ball; we need to blame each other because we need to create more options.
“Sometimes we don't move enough to create options for each other so we can't point the finger at anyone — we need to look to ourselves.
“We have some positives [to take into the new year] because we were unbeaten and we moved out of trouble. We turned things around and now we want to turn another corner and to win games.
“We know that these kinds of games are the ones we need to win to push up the table and we didn't do so. So, yes, there are some positives to take but there's a lot of things to rectify to be able to move on.”
Allardyce blamed his team's attacking shortcomings for the lack of adventure and his decision to field three defensive midfielders.
"Our goalscoring abilities are limited, you don't need to be a manager to look at what the squad has got," he said.
"It's got players who can play well and create but not many out-and-out goalscorers. That's why I work so hard on defence as we're not going to be a free-scoring team."