Carlo Ancelotti has stressed the importance of Everton’s victory away at West Ham United and said without it, his side would have been “out of the fight for Europe”.
It took just one goal to earn the win on the day in London, leaving Everton in eighth spot in the Premier League table at the time of writing. Ancelotti’s team are just three points behind the side they defeated - the Hammers - and have a game in hand to come against Aston Villa. The Italian manager knows work is still to be done to secure European football next season though.
“It was a vital victory. If we didn’t win here, we were out of the fight for Europe. It was necessary to have a result here and it was important that we knew and felt how important the game was today [Sunday]. There was pressure on the game.
“We are still in the fight [for European qualification], there are only four games, but we can fight. We are not focused on the other teams, we are focused on our games to try and get as many points as possible. We have four difficult games and I don’t care what the other teams do. The competitiveness of the Premier League is top and will be until the final games.
Ancelotti also wanted to highlight how impressive his players were against West Ham, a side who are still in the hunt for Champions League qualification.
Being restricted to just 31 per cent possession of the ball all game, Everton had to capitalise when they had the chance to do and did just that. The Blues also prevented the opposition from registering a shot on target across the 90 minutes of match action.
“We are not a possession team. We managed the game well and we played at the top defensively, being really dangerous in the counter-attack. In this sense, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison did fantastic work. Defensively, and also I asked them to attack and play vertically. Attack at the back and they did a lot of the time.
“When West Ham conceded the goal, they put a lot of players in front and players between the lines. We covered the positions in between well. The attitude, spirit, concentration and motivation [from Everton] were really high.”
DCL’s goal represents a ‘top striker’
In scoring at the London Stadium, forward man Calvert-Lewin grabbed his 16th goal of the season, and will undoubtedly finish the campaign as the Toffees’ top scorer.
On a personal level, the front man will be hoping for a place in the England squad for EURO 2020 this summer, and club boss Ancelotti believes his goal against West Ham was of the highest quality.
“I think that the goal he scored today is the goal of a top striker. It’s a goal when the striker prepares the movement and moves at the right time with a lot of speed, then cuts in front of the goalkeeper. A fantastic goal in this sense.
“He hasn’t scored a lot of goals like this because more of the goal he has scored have been from crosses or one touch in the box, but this is the goal of a top striker.”
Away acceleration continues
With their weekend triumph, Everton have now picked up 11 wins on the road this season and a total of 36 points, accumulating to over 65% of their points total in the league so far this campaign.
Five of those 11 wins have come in London, the same total as the amount of wins registered at Goodison Park up until this point in the season, and Ancelotti recognises similarities when three points are claimed away from home by his side.
“The performance today [at West Ham] was good but all the times that we’ve won away, it was from this kind of performance.
“After defeats, we have reacted really well a lot of times and now we want to act, not to have a reaction.
“The players know that it will be vital against Aston Villa [away, on May 13]. We have to be ready, to prepare and to feel the game.”