Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has picked out a couple of worrying trends that might affect his side’s chances of finishing in the top four.
The Toffee have enjoyed a solid season and sit seventh in the standings. They have 40 points and are five adrift of fourth-placed West Ham United, with two games in hand on the Hammers.
But there is a sense that things could have been even better. The boss is worried by their form against the bottom half of the Premier League.
They have secured more points against ‘Big Six’ teams than they have against those who started the weekend 15th or below. The Merseysiders have 14 from eight matches against the top six and 13 from eight when facing the lesser lights.
Starting with Monday’s visit of Southampton they have a run which features games against West Brom, Burnley, Crystal Palace and Brighton. The only top-half side they will play in that period is Chelsea.
March and early April will have a huge bearing on their Champions League dreams. And the Italian has revealed his concerns.
“If I have to say what happened until now I have to say I have to be worried because we are going to play against the teams at the bottom where we had more problems,” said Ancelotti.
“We have to be able to solve these kind of problems. I am convinced it is a really competitive league, a really difficult league.
The former Real Madrid boss praised the English teams’ results in Europe but believes there is strength throughout the league.
“You have to consider also that the teams at the bottom are doing well also,” he added. “To play against Fulham, to play against Burnley, is not easy at all and to play against Southampton is not easy.”
No home comforts
Another disappointing aspect of the campaign has been Everton’s home form. They have won just four of 12 matches at Goodison Park, taking one point from the last 15 available.
That is also something which will have to change if the top four is to become a reality. And the 61-year-old has his own theories as to what they will need to do.
“The opinion I have is that away we are more focused defensively, we do less mistakes,” he continued. “To win away is so important so you are more focused defensively, you avoid problems – at home maybe we are thinking the game is easier and we are not able to keep the concentration we have away.
“Defensively we have to be more focused when we are at home because at least if you are able to keep the game 0-0 the games which we lost against Newcastle, Fulham, West Ham and Leeds we would have four more points and having four more points would climb the table a lot.
“If we want to fight for the European position we have to improve our home run at Goodison.”
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