The legend of Carlo Ancelotti continues to grow as Everton ground out an away win under difficult circumstances at Wolverhampton Wanderers, beating the hosts 2-1 thanks to an early goal from Alex Iwobi and a late winner from Michael Keane.
The Blues were challenged from the outset by a quick and talented Wolves side, but Ancelotti set out his team in a similar 4-4-2 that dug in and won key games against Chelsea, Leicester City, and Arsenal, returning to a four-centrehalf backline that repelled attack after attack as Nuno Espirito Santo’s side tried in vain to find the equalizer late on.
“Great result. If you win here you have to have a good performance. We played a good game, we were good defensively, we attacked well with good ideas on the flanks.
“After that the game was in the balance, at the end we won thanks to Michael Keane, who scored a fantastic goal.”
With Dominic Calvert-Lewin out injured and Richarlison only on the bench, Ancelotti used James Rodriguez and Gylfi Sigurdsson as his two most advanced players in what purported to be a ‘False 9’ formation, and the manager credited his players’ ability to adapt to the what was required for the win.
“The players that were available and were not so tired after the FA Cup game adapted really well. The position of James Rodriguez and Gylfi Sigurdsson in front was really good. We had opportunities with Lucas Digne and with Alex Iwobi. We adapted well to the characteristics of our players.
“Without Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin it is more difficult to score but I think all the games we played well defensively we got a result. To be focussed defensively helped us to have a good game.”
Speaking to the BBC a bit later, Ancelotti added -
“We knew this would be a difficult game to play here.
“We played the game we had planned. We avoided to concede counter-attacks and tried to find the chance to be clinical when the opportunity came.
“We had a different approach without Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin. We played more to attack the flanks with Iwobi and Digne and it worked well because the first goal was a fantastic combination.
“Michael Keane is unbelievable with his head. His goal helped us to stay in a good position in the table.
“We perform better away because at home we don’t have the support of our fans at the moment, which is really important. When we played with 2,000 of our supporters against Chelsea we won.”