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Ancelotti on his cup of tea, Digne contract, setpiece defence & King’s role

Everton manager’s pre-match press conference ahead of clash with Fulham on Sunday

Tottenham Hotspur v Everton - Premier League Photo by Tony McArdle/Everton FC via Getty Images

After the rollicking last couple of games filled with goals - six in the game at Manchester United, nine midweek against Tottenham Hotspur - Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti can be forgiven for settling for a quiet 1-0 win on Sunday against Fulham.

“Yes we would be happy for a victory of course. We know every game is really difficult, really complicated. In my opinion Fulham is playing really good football with courage and intensity.

“After two hours against Tottenham we are not in the best condition. I think we have enough time to recover properly but we have to pay attention with this kind of game.”

The Toffees are just three points off fourth place with two games in hand, how important is a victory this weekend?

“It will be a key point to try to win, we are not far from the first four positions in the table, and our target is to stay there.

“The last [league] game we played at home was a defeat against Newcastle. It was a surprise, and we don’t want a surprise against Fulham, knowing it is a difficult a game for a lot of reasons.”

The manager had previously indicated that Lucas Digne was close to signing a new contract with the Blues, any updates on that front?

“I’m not in there but I know, they agreed, and next week they are going to sign the new contract officially.”

Bernard’s eventually winner on Wednesday night was met with uproarious joy on the Everton bench, but Ancelotti somehow maintained his calm, with fans speculating about what exactly the contents of his cup were and how he managed to stay cool.

“I was drinking a tea because I was freezing. After the 90 minutes I was not able to talk because I was really cold so I asked for a cup of tea.

“When Bernard scored the goal I didn’t celebrate for two reasons - because I had the cup of tea in my hand, and second I didn’t know if it was allowed or not because there was a check for the offside, so I was calm and cool for this reason. It was so cold!”

Everton’s prize for beating Spurs in that rollercoaster of a game will be facing the hottest side in England right now, Manchester City, with the game to be played the weekend of March 20th.

“My reaction is that we are going to play the most difficult team in this period but we have a chance. Maybe less than 50%, this is absolutely normal, but we want to play our best.

“I think it’s really exciting for us to play a quarter final against Manchester City. If you want to win a cup, you have to beat Manchester City.”

Everton’s defence has suddenly turned very leaky after a series of convincing performances, is Ancelotti concerned about what he’s seeing?

“I would be more worried if we conceded seven goals and we didn’t score!

“We had problems where we usually didn’t have problems on setpieces - we conceded practically three goals against Tottenham, one goal on setpieces against Manchester United.

“Usually there we were solid and strong, also because we have taller players good with their heads - Yerry Mina, Michael Keane, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison. We have to adjust a little bit some positions, and we are going to do it.

“Also we tried to play an open game, so we conceded a lot, but we also scored a lot. Against United the strategy was not only to defend and play counter attack. We wanted to build up from the back using the quality of James Rodriguez and Andre Gomes, and against Tottenham with Gylfi Sigurdsson.”

What does Ancelotti expect from Joshua King and where does he see him playing?

“I think he can play in Calvert-Lewin’s position and can play as a winger also. Of course without Calvert-Lewin there is a strong possibility to put him in the first eleven.

“His physical condition is good, and his adaptation to the team is working well.”