Everton face a trip to Chelsea on Sunday as they look to gain ground in the race for European places.
The Toffee’s will be boosted by the presence of manager Carlo Ancelotti in the dugout at Stamford Bridge – The Italian’s touchline ban picked up at the end of the game against Manchester United was rescinded earlier this week.
Ancelotti’s side currently sit in 11th place but are currently just 5 points off Man United in 5th place. A win this weekend could see them climb to 9th.
The Everton manager has stated his focus on this season’s ambition of gaining European football next season.
(Full Press Conference Below)
“Right now we are not looking at the next season we are looking at the games we have now that are important.
“We are looking to do our best to reach Europe if it is possible this season. This is our focus now, not to recruit new players.”
Last time out – VAR robbery?
The Toffees’ 1-1 draw against United last weekend was a bitter pill to swallow for both players and management alike.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s last-minute winner was controversially ruled out after it was judged that the offside Gylfi Sigurdsson interfered with play as he moved his legs out of the way of the deflected goal-bound effort.
The usually calm Ancelotti received a red card at full time for his protests, but it wasn’t all bad for the Blues.
Despite having one ruled out, Calvert-Lewin opened the scoring for Everton. The goal was his 15th of the season and it was indicative of his current form under Ancelotti.
Calvert-Lewin England’s answer?
Since the Italian’s arrival, the 22-year-old has bagged 8 goals in 15 games with him striking up a great partnership with Richarlison.
His performances have merited suggestions of an England call up for the Euros in the summer.
They have not gone unnoticed by the Everton hierarchy either, with the striker signing a new 5 year deal with the club.
With Mason Holgate also penning a new deal, Ancelotti is confident of a bright future for the club.
“I think the spine of the team is good. We have a mix of young and experienced players. We can improve.
“We are not a top team at this point but we can be at the top. That is our dream we can be there soon.
“(Holgate and Calvert-Lewin) The fact that they are English is good for the club because they know the structure of the club and the atmosphere.
“So as I said with them we can build a good future at this club.”
Everton will be without club captain Seamus Coleman at Stamford Bridge. The Irishman was taken off with a thigh problem against United and Ancelotti confirmed he would be unavailable for the weekend.
However, the Italian did confirm that Lucas Digne would be available for selection again after missing the past two games with a calf injury.
Chelsea come into this game in somewhat of a strange place.
The Londoners sit in 4th in the league – only 5 points behind Leicester in 3rd – but poor form has seen Man United climb to within 3 points of the home side, after winning only 1 of their last six league games.
Frank Lampard will be desperate to put some space between the chasing pack with a win, but faces a selection dilemma ahead of Sunday’s clash.
Willian and Kovacic added themselves to a growing injury list – including Tammy Abraham, Ngolo Kante, Andreas Christensen, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Christian Pulisic – after both suffering achilles injuries in their FA Cup win against Liverpool.
The Chelsea manager’s options in midfield are particularly limited, with Jorginho also set to miss the next two games through suspension.
However, after his impressive Man of the Match performance midweek, Lampard may turn to 19-year-old Billy Gilmour to play alongside the English duo of Ross Barkley and Mason Mount.
Everton boss Ancelotti knows Lampard well from the Italian’s time as his manager at Chelsea and is excited for his return to Stamford Bridge.
“I thought that he could be a manager. He did well last year. He is doing really well this season. it is not an easy season for Chelsea.
“I wish him the best and I am really pleased to meet him after a long time.
“It will be an emotional moment for me. I have fantastic memories of my time there. The two year period I was there were unbelievable years.
Ancelotti looks to put unwanted return record to bed.
Despite his excitement to face his former employers, the three-time Champions League winner will be looking to overturn a dire personal record of his own.
The 60-year-old has won titles wherever he has gone but has a terrible record when it comes to away games against teams he has previously managed.
Ancelotti has won just one of his last 14 (D5 L8) – with his only victory coming against Parma with Napoli in February last year.
This record will no doubt be something both the manager and Evertonians hope can be improved upon when the Merseysiders travel to London this weekend.