Everton manager Frank Lampard has quelled the notion that his side’s meeting with Crystal Palace is “all or nothing” in their bid for Premier League survival. Lampard’s team host Palace at Goodison Park this evening knowing that they need two points from their remaining two matches this season to ensure safety.
The stakes of Everton’s penultimate game are heightened by their woeful away record this term, in which they have won just twice, and the challenge of travelling to Arsenal on the final day. However, it wouldn’t be wise for Everton, who are two points and two places above the relegation zone, to pin all their hopes on this evening’s game, according to Lampard.
“If you approach it as ‘all or nothing’ and then we don’t get the right result, do you then try to rekindle that you have a game to come?” the Everton manager said. “It is the reality. We have to approach it as a game at Goodison, a game against a really good opponent, and a game we all understand what it is.
“We have two games left to probably get two points with the goal difference situation with Leeds [Everton are 18 better off]. We understand the situation, understand what we need and what we want and we have to prepare as well as we can to get it. But we are not going to write off a game against Arsenal, it’s a game to go and contend and try and get a result no matter what happens on Thursday.”
Everton’s destiny is within their own hands, despite having drawn to Watford and thrown away a lead to lose to Brentford in the past week. And Lampard admitted that their chances of survival still look better than they did only a few weeks ago.
“That is the nice thing, that’s a good thing,” he said. “If you had offered that to us a few weeks ago we probably would have taken it. But it is just words at the moment. It is nice that it is in our hands and if we can get the right performance, things go our way, tap into the atmosphere, we know we have an opportunity to get where we want to be.”
Jarrad Branthwaite’s 18th-minute sending off proved costly for Everton in their 3-2 defeat to Brentford on Sunday and Salomon Rondon’s late dismissal made it five players to have seen red in Everton’s last 11 matches, with Lampard having overseen as many sending offs as victories. Yet, he insists his player are handling the pressure of the relegation fight.
He added: “We have got red cards this year and I am not mad on that fact because they obviously make games hard, but at the same time a lot of them have been footballing mistakes – but of course we have to try to manage against that.”
The atmosphere at Goodison in recent weeks, with the team bus being greeted by thousands of fans and plumes of blue smoke, has undoubtedly contributed to an upturn in results. And Lampard wants his team to harness that emotion again, while still remaining fixed on the bigger picture.
“I think they have to understand the occasion, they have to tap into that,” he said. “It is not the fifth game of the season where you are trying to get yourself going, it is a game which is really critical. We have to use the fact there is a pressure on us in a good way and play with control on top of that, that is the balance.”