Everton host Southampton tonight at Goodison Park with a vital three points at stake.
A win tonight would close the gap to fourth place to just two points for Everton. They will also have a game in hand on the teams above them.
The race for the top four is starting to hot up and Everton are firmly in the running to qualify for the UEFA Champions League this season. Despite this, Carlo Ancelotti is adamant that his team will take it one game at a time.
In his press conference, he said: “In my opinion we don’t look at the table, we have to play it game by game and see where we are at the end of the season”
Ancelotti admitted however that Europe is the goal for this season, he explained: “For us it is important to play in Europe next season, it would be a step forward for the players and the club”
Positive week for Everton
Everton come into the game on a massive high after their historic win at Anfield last weekend. The club has also received more good news as their new stadium has been granted planning permission and talented full-back Lucas Digne has signed a new long term deal.
Everton fans will be happy to hear that Ancelotti believes that Dominic Calvert Lewin and Allan will return tonight. The pair have missed the last few games due to injuries.
Yerry Mina, Joshua King and Jean-Phillipe Gbamin are reportedly making good progress in terms of fitness levels.
Everton have a great home record against Southampton in the Premier League. The blues are unbeaten in their last 15 home games against Southampton (10W 5L).
Southampton have been in bad form lately and are without a win in eight games in the league. As a result they currently sit in 14th place just seven points above the relegation zone.
All of this will be a boost coming into the game against a Southampton side that has been struggling of late. However Carlo Ancelotti is expecting a tough test from the Saints.
In his press conference, he said: The last games they played they didn’t get the results but they played the games with strong intensity and high pressure and I think they played quite well in my opinion”
He added: “I have to say I worry because when we play the teams at the bottom we have more problems”
Taking points from the bottom
Everton have picked up more points against the top six teams than against the bottom six sides this season. They must improve their results against the sides at the bottom as they chase a Champions League place.
It was Southampton who took the spoils when the sides met at St Mary’s in October. Goals from James Ward-Prowse and Che Adams were enough for the home side.
Despite their recent poor run of form Southampton will take positives from the reverse fixture. They will also be aware that Everton have not been their best at Goodison Park this season.
Poor form at Goodison
Ancelotti has acknowledged that their home form has been a problem this season. Everton have lost their last three home games in the Premier League.
The Italian has explained that the poor form at home is due to a lack of focus, he said “I think away we are more defensively focused, we make less mistakes and we avoid problems”
He went on to add: “At home maybe we are thinking the game will be easier and we are not able to keep the concentration we have when we are away”
Ancelotti admits that they must improve if Everton are to qualify for the Champions League this season. The Italian thinks that Everton will have to battle as the end of the season approaches.
“We don’t have many games left until the end of the season so we must be ready to fight in every game because every game is complicated and difficult, we must be ready”
Tonight’s game could play a massive role in Everton’s quest for Champions League football next season. You can watch it live tonight on Monday Night Football on Sky Sports.
Kick-off is scheduled for 8:00pm at Goodison Park.
Featured Image by – pic under licence by Илья Хохлов