Are Everton true contenders for a European spot?
07 Oct 2020 08:57 am, by YorkshireSquare
Three-time Champions League winning manager Carlo Ancelotti, who took over at Goodison Park last December, and was left disappointed with a 12th-place finish – the lowest Everton have finished since 2004 - said at the beginning of the season that he expects to compete for a European spot this term.
"I think that the goal we want to achieve is to fight for the first positions of the Premier League to be able to reach Europe next season," he said.
"The goal is quite clear. We have this desire, this ambition. I think we can."
But, are Everton, who are now odds-on to finish in the top six – according to the latest Premier League betting - actually capable of competing for a European spot? Well, Ancelotti has definitely strengthened his squad from last season – especially in midfield. The Italian gaffer has brought in James Rodriguez from Real Madrid, Allan from Napoli, and Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucouré.
Brazilian Allan has already proved why he was considered one of the best defensive midfielders in the Serie A, whilst James has shown his technical flair and ability, that excited many supporters upon his arrival to the Premier League.
Well, if their early form is anything to go by, then they look more than fired up to compete for a spot in European football for the first time since 2017/18! The Everton fans couldn’t have asked for a better start to the season from their beloved players and boss, Ancelotti.
When the Toffees saw that their first game of the season was away to Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham Hotspur, a side that they hadn’t beaten since 2012, they probably would have been happy to see their side return to Merseyside, from North London, with just a point. However, a second-half goal from Dominic Calvert-Lewin gave the Toffees their first opening day win of the season since 2017.
Next up, in the Premier League, for Everton was a home fixture against newly promoted West Brom, and as expected, Ancelotti’s men brushed aside the Baggies. Calvert-Lewin bagged a hattrick, whilst James and Michael Keane also scored in the very impressive 5-2 win.
A trip back to the capital, this time to Selhurst Park, for a tough challenge against a well-drilled Crystal Palace – who were just off the back of a victory over Manchester United. But, Calvert-Lewin was on the scoresheet for the third game running, alongside Brazilian Richarlison, as Everton won 2-1, and picked up all nine points on offer. Back at Goodison, a 4-2 win over Brighton meant that Everton entered the international break top of the table with a maximum of 12 points.
Meanwhile, with the Carabao Cup now offering another route into European football, albeit UEFA’s new third tier competition, it might be something that Ancelotti turns his attention to. The Toffees have already trashed lower league opponents Salford City (3-0) and Fleetwood Town (5-2), whilst a comfortable 4-1 win over West Ham in the last 16 saw them progress to the quarterfinals – where they will face Manchester United.
Of course, with Ancelotti being such a seasoned manager, he probably won’t settle for Europe’s third tier. Whilst a place in the top four is likely to be a little too much to ask from the Toffees, if they can keep up with their fine form, then we have no doubt they will be there, or there abouts, for a Europa League spot, come the end of the season.