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Everton's upcoming schedule poses first big test for Ancelotti

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Four of the big six, in consecutive games

Watford FC v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images

Brace yourselves Blues, it's going to be quite the four-week spell coming up.

There's going to be joy, there's going to be drama, there's going to be frustration, there's going to be anger, there's going to be disappointment and there will most certainly be overreaction.

So far the Toffees have performed admirably since Carlo Ancelotti has taken over, only second to runaway league leaders Liverpool in the form table in that period.

The solid run with just one Premier League loss to defending champions Manchester City has the fans believing again, with not just the Europa League beckoning, but the Champions League in touching distance too.

However, for either to happen, Ancelotti's charges will have to prove their mettle with a murderers' row of teams to play.

The Blues will return from their winter break with a trip to North London to take on Arsenal first. Former Blue Mikel Arteta is slowly molding the side into what his vision is for the Gunners, and they easily overwhelmed Newcastle 4-0 this last weekend.

They do have an elimination round game in the Europa League at Olympiacos of Greece on Thursday, and it'll be worth paying attention to who they field for it and how they do.

Manchester United v Everton FC - Premier League Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Next up for the Blues will be Manchester United, who recorded a smash-and-grab 2-0 win at Chelsea yesterday, and face two Round of 32 clashes against Club Brugges and Watford FC in the Premier League before they travel to Goodison Park on March 1st.

Following that will be another trip to London, this time to the suddenly toothless Chelsea. Frank Lampard's side are suddenly not so comfortable in fourth place with the chasing pack getting closer.

Despite all their talent, things are not quite settling down for them and they'll take on Tottenham Hotspur, Bayern Munich (Champions League), AFC Bournemouth and Liverpool (FA Cup) before Everton visit Stamford Bridge.

The gauntlet of formidable foes ends with the return leg of the Merseyside Derby at Goodison Park, with a very good chance that the Reds could clinch their first ever Premier League title on that day.

Just the prospect of that happening at the Grand Old Lady has the Blues in a bit of a tizzy, and should that situation come to pass, the stakes will never have been higher for the derby for the last couple of decades.

Everton v Newcastle United - Premier League - Goodison Park Photo by Martin Rickett/PA Images via Getty Images

The keyword here for the fanbase needs to be patience. Ancelotti's better-than-expected start has certainly raised expectations, but a less than positive outcome from the next four games shouldn't mean it's time to throw out the baby with the bathwater again.

Ancelotti for his part has certainly learned more about the squad at his disposal and will have had enough time to prepare for the said opponents with the frequency of matches at once a week right now.

Whether the players can stick to the game plan and execute will be another thing, but each one of those games has the potential to be meaningful for the future with a spot in European football still attainable despite the terrible start to the season under Marco Silva.

Poll

How many points will Everton get in the next four games? (@ ARS, vs MUN, @ CHE, vs LIV)

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    0-3 points
    (19 votes)
  • 49%
    4-6 points
    (151 votes)
  • 35%
    7-9 points
    (107 votes)
  • 8%
    10-12 points
    (27 votes)
304 votes total Vote Now