Carlo Ancelotti comes up against a former player of his in the form of Frank Lampard when he brings his Chelsea side to Goodison Park on Saturday. Everton have only won one of their last seven games in the Premier League and it will be a tough challenge facing the third-ranked team in the table.
Ancelotti spoke to the media ahead of Saturday’s match and covered the game, the latest injury news and the return of supporters to Goodison Park.
The Everton manager first of all spoke of the sadness that he felt when learning of the passing Paolo Rossi on Thursday who played with Ancelotti for Italy and is a great of the game. “I have fantastic memories of him,” Ancelotti said. “He was a funny guy and I’m really sad.”
Facing Chelsea and Lampard
The club that Ancelotti took to a Premier League and FA Cup double in 2010 are once again in the hunt for silverware. Chelsea sit third in the table, two points off top, having won six and lost just one of their league games thus far. Ancelotti is under no illusions of the task that awaits Everton on Saturday.
“Chelsea are in a really good moment. It is necessary for us to be in fantastic shape and give a top performance. The question is are we able to do this? The answer in my personal opinion is yes, we are able to compete.”
Everton, however, did beat Chelsea at home last season when Duncan Ferguson was in temporary charge and Ancelotti believes that he can use that performance as a base for the game on Saturday. “We need the kind of motivation Duncan put on the players,” he said, “this will be a good base to have a good performance.”
Not only will Ancelotti be facing a club he used to manage but also a player he once coached. Lampard was Chelsea captain when Ancelotti was in charge and was full of praise for the job that the former midfielder is doing at the west London club.
“I think he’s doing really well. He did really well last season at Chelsea, he’s doing well now. He has a fantastic squad and a fantastic team.”
James added to injury list
Ancelotti confirmed that he is still without Seamus Coleman, who should be back for the game with Leicester City in midweek, while James Rodriguez and Fabian Delph are new additions to the treatment table. “He was not able to train,” Ancelotti said of James’s injury. “We have to see if he will be able to play against Leicester.”
“James is a fantastic player for us, he did really well at the beginning and had some problems after the game against Liverpool. But we have to be, and will be, able to adapt. We have a good squad, we are going to play a little bit different."
Need for clean sheets
Everton have stuttered during the past few weeks, having started the season excellently, and have now only managed one win from their last seven matches. They still haven’t kept a clean sheet since the opening game of the season either. But their position of ninth in the table demonstrates that Everton are still in the pack chasing the European places.
“I think in the last three games against Fulham, Leeds, and Burnley the team showed some good qualities. We are were we want to be, fighting for the position in Europe. There is a lot of competition but Everton is there.
“We are not happy [with the lack of clean sheets], only the first game did we have a clean sheet. We tried to solve this using a different shape but as I said we have to improve the attitude and concentration defensively. Honestly, I have to say the players are all focused here.”
Saturday’s match will also see the return of 2,000 supporters to Goodison Park for the first time in nine months. The Everton manager said that he is looking forward to welcoming the fans back and it is a good game for their return.
“It will be nice for everyone. It’s a good start to reopen the stadium, it will be very good and really nice. I’m sure they are going to support us for the game tomorrow. Players, staff and coaches are really please to have supporters at the stadium. I think there will be a lot of noise, but it will be a good sensation for everyone.”