Club captain Seamus Coleman believes following up Sunday’s vital win at West Ham United with another away success at Aston Villa will put Everton “right in the hunt” for European qualification.
Victory over Dean Smith’s side would represent a 12th on the road this season for Everton – and take the Blues level on points with fifth-placed West Ham.
Coleman says Everton’s exceptional away form means the squad will approach Thursday’s clash at Villa Park (6pm BST) brimming with confidence. Successive home matches against Sheffield United and Wolverhampton Wanderers follow before the Toffees round off the season at Manchester City.
Coleman underlined the importance of Everton delivering a strong season run-in – and ensuring the Blues are competing again on the European stage.
“Sunday was a massive win – and we needed that to keep the season alive,” he told evertontv.
“If we’d have lost, we’d have been all but out of the European race. A good away win always brings a good atmosphere.
“Our full focus is on the Aston Villa game. If we win that, we’re right in the hunt. European football is what we want and what the Club needs.
“We’ve got to be proud of the record away from home. If we can balance that off with a couple of home wins to finish the season, then I think we’ll be in a good place.
“We’ve beaten the likes of Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal away from home – and they were good milestones for us as a club.
"Even if it’s for the next group going forward, they don’t have that burden on their backs going into those games.
“It’s been a positive season away from home. Now we’ve got European football to play for and we want to achieve that.”
A dynamic performance from midfielder Allan in Sunday’s victory at West Ham saw him voted man of the match by Evertonians.
When manager Ancelotti was asked who his star man was, however, the Italian selected his captain.
In a typically whole-hearted display from Coleman, he won four tackles – a total surpassed by only Ben Godfrey (5) during the game – blocked two shots and made two clearances.
As well as his determined defending, Coleman also provided Everton with an attacking thrust – and almost got on the scoresheet late in the piece when a goalbound strike was well blocked by Jesse Lingard.
“If it’s right-back, right midfield, left-back, left midfield…it’s an absolute privilege to play for this football club and it’s something I've had to work very hard for,” Coleman explained.
“I never take getting on that pitch for granted.
“When I get out there, it’s always been the same for me – just hard work, keep your head down and do your best for the team.
“I think I got around the pitch quite well and intercepted a few balls and thankfully we won the game.”
Only Manchester City and Manchester United have won more points than Everton’s 36 away from home this season.
Coleman says this record has been built on the foundations of resilience, attitude and application – and also paid tribute to boss Ancelotti’s tactical acumen.
“Credit goes to the manager and the coaching staff,” he added.
“Against West Ham, they had us playing a certain way. We were narrow and didn’t let the ball go through the lines as much as they would like.
“They probably had a lot of crosses because we didn’t mind the ball getting out there and our defenders dealt with the crosses well.
“You come away to teams and, first and foremost, it’s about being solid
“We’ve done that away from home – and then we’ve got the goals and been able to defend well as a group.”