Abdoulaye Doucoure is attributing his dynamic form to joining an Everton team that suits the midfielder’s energetic brand of play.
Frenchman Doucoure came off the bench to book Everton’s FA Cup fourth round place with the winning strike in Saturday’s victory over Rotherham United.
Focus immediately returns to the Premier League, as Everton resume a breathless campaign at Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side lie seventh but only four points off the summit.
They go to the Black Country seeking an instant response to a New Year’s Day defeat by West Ham United which curbed a four-match winning run.
Doucoure, who signed a three-year contract when he joined from Watford back in September, is a Premier League ever present this term.
“The start of the season is very good, everyone made a lot of progress and improvements in our games,” said Doucoure.
“We are winning a lot of games and are only four points from the top, so it means we are not far from our goal of being in Europe next season – and we have to keep going.
“I was very keen to come to Everton because I knew it would suit my game.
“I can defend and attack, like the manager said, and it is suiting how I play.
“It is one of the best times to be an Everton player, a lot of players would dream of being in this team.
“We have very good players, great signings… the mood is very good around the Club.
“We want to be successful this year.
“We have two competitions: the Premier League and FA Cup.
“It will be very hard [to win one of them] but we have a great team and have shown we can do great things.
“So we can win a trophy, yes.
“Also, playing in the Champions League is one of my targets for my career.
“It would be huge for me to play in the Champions League in an Everton shirt.”
Everton sped up to second position off the back of last month's four-game winning sequence.
Ancelotti’s team began the season on an identical note.
But it is indicative of a congested and unpredictable campaign that none of the division’s 20 teams has stitched together five straight victories.
Equally, when Everton lost their sixth match of 2020/21, at Southampton, they were the final team to be beaten in a Premier League fixture.
Doucoure, then, recognises the value of creating momentum, in advance of a week when Everton face Aston Villa five days after the Wolves encounter.
“This season is very special, every game is very difficult to win, if you win once you can climb to the top, if you lose, you drop,” said Doucoure.
“We want to be there [among leading pack], our main target is the same: to be in Europe.
“Wolves are a very good and competitive team and hard to beat.
“It will be tough and they will want to win at their home stadium.
“We have two games this week and want to start another sequence [of victories]… when you win two or three games in a row you can reach the very top."
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Doucoure was singled out for praise by Ancelotti following a man-of-the-match display in last month’s 2-0 win at Leicester City.
The manager called Doucoure “one of the best French midfielders”, highlighting the 28-year-old's game intelligence and multi-dimensional talent, which Ancelotti reckons could soon be rewarded with a first senior international call.
“I always dreamt of playing under a great manager like Carlo Ancelotti,” added Doucoure.
“He is one of the nicest guys in the football world and gives me a lot of confidence and advice.
“My ambition this season is to play every game, to be in the starting XI and have great performances and fulfil my dream of playing in the national team.
“The better the team does, the more chance I have to be in the national team.
“I am with a great club and very happy and want to have even more success in this league.
“I want to keep my place in the team and keep going.”