Ancelotti On Everton's European Chase

Carlo Ancelotti says the Premier League fight for European positions is “still open” – and Everton will aim to exploit home advantage against a “strong” Manchester United on Sunday.

Everton have muscled into contention for a top-six finish following the arrival of Italian Ancelotti as manager.

The Blues won five and drew two of Ancelotti’s opening eight league games but suffered a setback with defeat at Arsenal last week.

Everton would nevertheless move within two points of currently fifth-placed United with victory this weekend.

And Ancelotti insists eradicating the mistakes which cost Everton any tangible reward for an otherwise assertive display in the capital last Sunday is key to sending Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United home empty handed.

“The fight for Europe is still open and will be after the game [regardless of result],” said Ancelotti.

“A win will be important for the table and our confidence.

“Manchester United is a strong team in a good moment but… our house [Goodison Park] is important.

“The support of our fans gives us more confidence.

“We can play with more focus here and it is true that to play at home is an advantage.

“They were easy mistakes [against Arsenal], we worked on that this week and I hope we can improve there.

“The performance was good and we ruined it with little details – but little details are really important.

“We have to be focused there and we will test if we have improved in those situations against United.”

Strike pair Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison both scored for the second successive game at Arsenal and have 22 Premier League goals between them this term.

The duo, both 22, have formed a potent frontline combination, initially under caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson – whose unbeaten three-match stint laid the platform for Ancelotti to launch his reign in productive fashion – and then under their new boss.

Richarlison has struck four times in his past five games. Calvert-Lewin’s return of seven goals in Ancelotti’s nine matches at the helm is matched only by Manchester City’s exceptional forward Sergio Aguero.

And Ancelotti reckons his forwards are profiting from Everton’s positive outlook.

“The fact we try to attack more gives them the opportunity to have more chances and both are doing really well,” said Ancelotti.

“Their physical data are really good.

“It is not a product of the system [4-4-2] they are doing well, what we are able to produce is important.

“We have full-backs pushing forward and putting in a lot of crosses and they are good with their heads, so this is an advantage.

“Also, we put players between the lines to give them the final pass.

“They are good without the ball, to attack the opponents’ backline [by running behind] gives them the advantage.

“These are the reasons they are scoring.

“And they are showing their quality.

“I do not want to give them a lot of information.

“I want to leave the strikers quite free to find the right positions.

“Defensively, they have to do specific work but offensively they are free.”

Manchester United are unbeaten in three Premier League games and have not conceded in that period.

Manager Solskjaer’s team strolled into the Europa League last 16 with a 5-0 demolition of Club Brugge on Thursday, when big-money January buy Bruno Fernandes was on target for the second straight game.

"Bruno Fernandes is doing really well,” added Ancelotti, preparing for his 15th encounter with United as a manager but first since May 2011.

“I am not surprised because I know his quality.

“He has come and had a strong impact – and he plays in a really dangerous position for them, and a really dangerous position for us.

“We have to take care with this, he is a really important part of their attacking style.”

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