Jordan Pickford has revealed how Carlo Ancelotti urged Everton to summon the “spirit and fight” which inspired last season’s stirring victory over Chelsea at Goodison Park ahead of Saturday’s triumph against the west London outfit.
Everton ended Chelsea’s 17-game unbeaten run with an impressive 1-0 win on the night 2,000 fans returned to Goodison Park.
Everton’s success was achieved thanks to an excellent all-round team performance, as the Blues mixed attacking quality and dynamism with defensive resilience and solidity.
The Blues’ previous home meeting with Chelsea was just over one year ago, when newly-appointed caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson led Everton to a 3-1 victory on an emotional afternoon at the Grand Old Lady.
Pickford says boss Ancelotti demanded his team showcase the intensity which overwhelmed Chelsea on that occasion when the teams locked horns on Saturday.
“That’s the mentality and the spirit you need to win games,” he said.
“The gaffer talked about the last time we played Chelsea here when Duncan was in charge – he wanted to see that spirit and fight.
“Chelsea are a very good side but it was a great win.
“The main thing was keeping a clean sheet. That was massive for us.
“I spoke last week [after Everton’s 1-1 draw at Burnley] about having that clean sheet mentality, with 11 men working to achieve that.
“That showed against Chelsea, everyone was grafting hard to try to get that clean sheet.”
Everton struck the decisive blow midway through the first half when Gylfi Sigurdsson slotted in from the penalty spot.
Shortly after breaking the deadlock Ancelotti’s side were indebted to Pickford, who produced two marvellous saves in the space of two minutes to prevent a Chelsea equaliser.
The Everton goalkeeper foiled England colleague Reece James on both occasions. First, Pickford confidently palmed away his well-struck shot from the edge of the area.
Pickford’s second stop was nothing short of world-class, as he somehow tipped the full-back’s powerful, deflected effort onto the post.
“Reece has got great quality but, for me, I’ve got to be ready for those moments when I’m called upon,” Pickford said.
“Making those saves always feels good.
“I train hard with the lads and with Kells [goalkeeper coach Alan Kelly] all week to be ready for the game on Saturday and be ready for those moments.”
Pickford paid tribute to the vibrant atmosphere created by the 2,000 Evertonians in attendance on Saturday night.
He declared the team’s satisfaction in rewarding their unstinting support with a positive performance and result.
“There were only 2,000 Everton fans here but you can see how much of a difference it makes,” he said.
“Ever since I was growing up as a fan, to then coming here and playing for Sunderland – you know how hard it is for away teams to come to Goodison when the fans are rocking.
“Having the supporters back here was great for us.
“The main thing was to put a smile on their faces with three points and we did that.”