Carlo Ancelotti hopes his Everton team can put last weekend’s “bad day” behind them and return to winning ways when they travel to Newcastle United on Sunday. Everton relinquished their unbeaten start to the season by falling to a 2-0 defeat at Southampton in a game that the visitors struggled to compete in.
The Everton manager previewed the upcoming trip to St James’ Park and spoke of the latest injury news when he held his press briefing on Friday afternoon.
On off-day at Southampton
Everton were defeated by Southampton last Sunday in a game where there were changes to the starting lineup meant the visitors struggled to contain Southampton or assert themselves. Richarlison was suspended and Seamus Coleman’s injury meant Ben Godfrey started out of position at right back, something that the Saints targeted. Everton also lost Lucas Digne to a second half red card, but Ancelotti believes his players have now moved on from their first defeat of the campaign.
“It was not a good day,” Ancelotti said. “We have moved forward. It is important, we want to stay at the top of the table if possible but playing against Newcastle is always difficult. We are focused, the spirit is good and we have confidence for the game.”
On facing Newcastle
Newcastle, Everton opponents this weekend, have started the league season in mixed form: drawing, losing and winning two games apiece. They were heavily defeated by Manchester United in their last home game but clinched a draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers last time out - placing them 14th in the current table.
“We have to be focused on the opposing team of course,” Ancelotti continued. “We have to try and find the weakness of the team, but we have to be focused on ourselves most of the time. We are trying to avoid the mistakes against Southampton.”
On the latest injuries
Ancelotti confirmed that James Rodriguez will be unavailable for the trip to Newcastle: “He had a little problem and needs to rest for this game. I think he will be available for the next game.” James was close to missing the Southampton match due to the same problem having played in every league game since his arrival in the summer and has also travelled to South America with Colombia in the last international break. His absence is necessary but will still be felt.
Seamus Coleman is also still out injured but Jonjoe Kenny and Jarrad Branthwaite are both ready to return in what are key defensive injury boosts. “I think that the fact we have players out, it’s important to know the quality of the squad,” Ancelotti said.
On Gordon’s game-time
The Everton manager was also questioned about Anthony Gordon and whether he will get more of a chance to feature int the league. “I think Anthony has the same possibly to play as the other players in the squad,” he replied. “I have to choose the first 11 and as I say to the players all the time it’s not important to start the game, it’s important to be involved. The target is to help the team.”
Gordon did speak to Ancelotti during the week to ask what he must do to get in the first team. “This is good to have motivation,” Ancelotti added. “For a young player motivation is really important. Every single day being focused and showing a good spirit - Anthony is doing this. If he needs to talk to me he has to show his personality which is good for our team.”