Ancelotti was largely pleased with Everton’s performance in their 3-2 defeat at the Emirates Stadium, but felt it was undermined by their basic errors, both in defence and their profligacy in attack.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s clash with United, he said:
“The mistakes we made were quite clear to focus on because they were easy mistakes.
“We have worked on them, and I hope we can improve on them because, as I said after the game, the performance was good and we ruined the performance by making some easy mistakes.
“They were little details, but little details in football are really important. We have to be focused on them on Sunday against United.”
The defeat to the Gunners left Everton on the back foot in the race for the European places; they fell in to the bottom half and trail United in fifth and Chelsea in fourth by five and eight points respectively.
But though Ancelotti admitted Sunday’s match is a hugely important game in Everton’s season, he stopped short of labelling it a ‘must-win’:
“I think the fight for the European places is still open and will be open after the game against United.
“Of course, to win against United will be important for the table, for our confidence; it’s a strong team in a good moment, but we have confidence.”
Midfielder André Gomes marked his incredibly quick recovery from a fractured dislocation to his right ankle suffered in November with an impressive 30-minute cameo in his return to first team action last week.
And Ancelotti said he believes he is ready for his first start since the injury, and was pleasantly surprised by how well he coped on the pitch at the Emirates.
“He’s ready to start as he was ready to start in my opinion against Arsenal, but I think he’s closer to starting now compared to last week. He trained normally and he can play, but I have to talk to him before the game.
“He did really well [against Arsenal]. I was surprised by the fact that it seemed like he hadn’t been out for three months because he played with confidence, tackling without fear, and also for him I think it was good to play. He has showed more confidence this week compared to last week.”
Elsewhere on the injury front, Ancelotti revealed that Theo Walcott is available again after suffering a knock to his ankle in the 3-1 home win over Crystal Palace earlier this month.
As for Lucas Digne, who missed the Arsenal defeat with a minor calf problem, Ancelotti said he will be monitored over the weekend before making a decision on whether to play him against United:
“Theo is fit. He doesn’t have any problems. Lucas Digne is training individually. He had a little problem on his calf in the last week. We are going to check tomorrow [on him].”
Ancelotti was also asked about Gylfi Sigurðsson, who has five goals and four assists in his last nine Premier League appearances against United, but has toiled this season, netting only once.
But the Italian said that Sigurðsson, who has been deployed in deeper midfield role lately than his typical no. 10 position, has satisfied with him performances in the main, despite the Iceland international being singled out for particular criticism after the Arsenal defeat:
“It depends what the expectation is from me and from Gylfi. It’s true that he hasn’t scored as many as last year but he’s played in a different position, further from the opponent’s goal.
“For me, it’s important that we can build up with him from the back more efficiently. Of course, we lose him up front because he shoots really well, but it doesn’t matter. The expectation that I have with him he was able to realise in this period.
“I don’t have any complaints with him. He’s doing well and, of course, I hope he can score soon, but it’s not the most important part of his job here now.”
Ancelotti also quashed rumours of Mason Holgate leaving Everton in the summer, with the central defender having been linked with a move to Manchester City:
“I think it is just a rumour. Mason Holgate is an important part of the future of Everton. There is no possibility that he can go to another club. Like my friend [José] Mourinho says: ‘zero possibility.’”