Ancelotti Sets Goodison Target

Carlo Ancelotti is targeting a clean sweep of victories from Everton’s three remaining home games to keep the Blues in with a shout of European qualification.

Everton will try to extend their nine-match unbeaten home Premier League run when Southampton come to Goodison Park on Thursday, with Aston Villa and Bournemouth also due in L4 before the end of this season.

Ancelotti, speaking to the media in his pre-match briefing, confessed his side “could have shown more intensity” in Monday’s defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.

And the manager is demanding a return of the energy and intent which underpinned Everton's performances when claiming seven points from three games immediately after football’s restart.

Those traits, insisted Ancelotti, will be needed to overcome a dynamic Southampton team managed by Ralph Hasenhuttl, who the Everton boss encountered when in charge of Bayern Munich.

“We still have a chance to qualify for the Europa League… it will be really important to win our three home games,” said Ancelotti, whose team are six points behind Arsenal in seventh.

“The performance against Tottenham was not what we expected – that was why we were disappointed.

“We could have shown more intensity and there we can improve… next season, improving our knowledge and intensity could be important in competing better against the top six teams in the Premier League.

“It is true we competed but we could have competed differently.

“The key point [to reach Europe] will be to win our home games and then try to win at Wolves or Sheffield United.

“It is an important game against a strong team [Southampton] so we have to be focused there.

“The game against Tottenham has gone.”

Southampton have won three of their four games following the Premier League's restart and trail 11th-placed Everton by one point and two positions in the table.

Hasenhuttl’s team beat Manchester City in their most recent outing and have performed a notable about-turn following a desperate start to the campaign.

The south coast club’s upturn, founded on the away form which has seen them win eight times and amass 26 points from 16 games, hasn’t surprised Ancelotti, however.

He recognises in Southampton the characteristics Austrian Hasenhuttl instilled at RB Leipzig in Germany.

The managers met twice in 2016/17, Ancelotti’s Bayern winning at home 3-0 and coming out on top of a barmy game in Leipzig which finished 5-4 to the visitors.

“I know the manager and his team is really well organised,” continued Ancelotti, who reiterated his faith in Anthony Gordon after the teenager’s introduction prompted a more progressive second-half display from Everton at Spurs.

“It is a team that plays with a lot if intensity, a strong team.

“Hasenhuttl is doing a fantastic job and we have to be at our best [to beat them].

“Southampton, as a shape and organisation, look like Leipzig.

“It is a team that defends really well, high, with a lot of pressure on the ball.

“It is normal [with this method], he [Hasenhuttl] is used to winning away more than at home."

Ancelotti added: “Anthony is doing well.

“He is young but showing good personality and character, when he plays from the start or goes on as a substitute.

“I have a lot of confidence in him. He is a player for now and for the future.

“He just needs to play to increase his confidence.

“He has quality.

"He can improve his knowledge but he is ready to play in the Premier League without a problem.”

Ancelotti revealed his team’s heavy schedule is heightening the use of video analysis as a preparation tool for games.

The Premier League sought to alleviate the physical demands imposed on players in the rush to finish this campaign by introducing one drinks break in each half of games and permitting managers to make five substitutions.

Ancelotti is an advocate for the drinks initiative but less sold on the rule allowing additional changes from the bench.

“On the physical aspect, we don’t need the drinks, the temperature is not so hot,” said Ancelotti.

“On the technical and tactical aspect, it is really useful.

“You can talk to the players and change something.

“It can be a good rule for the managers.

“I’m not a big fan of five substitutions.

“Most are made to break the game, to lose time.

“Three is enough.”



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