Everton host Tottenham Hotspur tomorrow in a battle of two respected teams that look to be doing their best to not qualify for Europe next season. Carlo Ancelotti has seen his side drop points as injuries have taken their toll on his limited squad, while Jose Mourinho has presided his team continuing to inexplicably falter despite having a talented roster at his disposal.
During his pre-match press conference today, Ancelotti tried to downplay the long injury list the Blues have had in the latter half of the season.
“In a difficult moment, it is more difficult to manage this during the season. We were able to manage the absence of Allan, of Digne, of Richarlison sometimes, of James. To have this kind of injury all at the same time is difficult. Tomorrow we have some players out but the squad is better and I think we can compete against Tottenham.
“All teams have this problem in this period. The fitness of the team in general is good. Against Brighton physically we were good. The players that have come back after injury are in good condition. They don’t need minutes to get fit, they are already fit.
“There were games where we were not good enough. Against Crystal Palace we were much better. It’s a difficult period for us which came for us now with a lot of injuries which we have to manage, but we have to continue to fight.”
Ancelotti has maintained that Everton are still in the race for Europe, with about half a dozen sides scrapping for a limited number of berths. However, he also added that not qualifying for European competition would not make this season a failure.
“There are a lot of teams involved there. We dropped some points in the last few games. We absolutely need to get the result against Tottenham and then we have some important games against teams fighting there. It is open for everyone but difficult for everyone.
“We have improved overall compared to last season - league position, knowledge, character, personality. To judge our season, we have to wait until the end. It could be a fantastic season if we reach Europe. It could [still] be a good season [even] if we don’t do this.
“I think it will go the last game. Lots of teams have inconsistent results.”
Everton recently met Spurs in a see-saw battle in the FA Cup, with the game ending 5-4 in the Blues’ favour after extra-time. That loss continued to heap pressure on Ancelotti’s counterpart Mourinho, along with their surprise exit from the Europa League at the hands of Sparta Prague.
“Every manager tries to do his best. We try to do our best. I am not able to judge Mourinho’s job. In my opinion he always does a fantastic job where he goes. Pressure on a manager is normal, no news there. Every manager has to manage the pressure.
“It will difficult to say how the game will be, look at that last FA Cup game. It will be an open game. They need points and we need points. They could score but we could score also. It is unpredictable to say what could happen.”