Pickford Certain Everton Will Keep Improving Under Ancelotti

Jordan Pickford says Everton’s development as a defensive unit reflects Carlo Ancelotti’s tactical expertise, with the keeper convinced the Blues will continue to progress under the Italian’s management.

Everton have conceded just two goals in four Premier League matches since the resumption of top-flight football, with both those efforts the result of unfortunate deflections.

England goalkeeper Pickford explained how regular video meetings during the coronavirus lockdown helped to nail down the manager’s defensive philosophy.

Everton host Southampton at Goodison Park on Thursday evening (6pm) aiming to hit back after being edged out at Tottenham Hotspur on Monday.

The Blues are unbeaten in nine top-flight matches at Goodison and Pickford believes the team’s increased solidity and resilience means they are well placed to extend that run.

“During lockdown we had a few Zoom meetings [with the coaching staff] and we started implementing a few ideas,” he said.

“You can see now our defensive unit and our playing style is much better, and that’s only with a couple of months of work.

“The defence has been solid and the two goals we conceded have been unlucky rebounds. The defensive unit has been very good, from the strikers all the way back.

“I think we’ve been a bit unfortunate because when the manager first came in it was over the busy Christmas period, then the pandemic hit so it’s been hard to have time to get his points across.

“When we get a full season under the manager, we’ll definitely improve again. He’s one of the best managers in the world and it’s great to be able to work with him every day.

“We’re looking forward and it’s great to have someone like that to look up to and learn from as a group - and see how he gets the best out of each player.”

A victory over Southampton would see Everton move back to within striking distance of seventh position and a potential Europa League spot.

Pickford is expecting a stern examination against Ralph Hassenhuttl’s side. The Saints have won their past two matches, following up a 3-1 win at Watford with an impressive 1-0 home success against Manchester City.

Pickford is confident, however, Everton boast the tools to achieve maximum points and apply pressure on the teams in European qualification places.

"We want to achieve the end goal of getting into Europe - that’s our aim and that’s what the manager wants for us as well,” he said.

“Seven points from the first three games since the restart was great and we wanted to build on that against Spurs. We could have nicked something but they were a hard team to break down.

“We just need to keep going.

“Southampton have got very good players and a lot of them are hitting form.

“It’s going to be a tough test but we’ve got to be on our A-game and I feel we’ve got the depth in the squad to get the result.”