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Are Everton legitimate top four contenders?

Carlo Ancelotti, considered as one of Europe’s most successful coaches, left Napoli to Everton last winter to replace Marco Silva as the club’s new manager. Following Ancelotti’s appointment at Goodison Park, many football fans said Everton has pulled off a coup by bringing in the three-time Champions League-winning manager. When Ancelotti arrived, Everton was lying in the 15th position and looked like a side devoid of any direction. It also looked like the Italian tactician has taken one of his most challenging jobs in coaching. The immediate challenge for Ancelotti was to guide the team to a good position. Fast forward, Everton placed 12th when the season ended. With him in the dugout, there were no doubts that Everton would improve this season. This season, Ancelotti faces a massive challenge at Everton as he tries to turn a mid-table team into a top-four contender after adding some serious talents to his squad. Everton has gotten their 2020-21 campaign off on a brighter note. They have recorded three successive victories, beating Tottenham, West Bromwich Albion, and Crystal Palace. Ancelotti is already familiar with English football. He has settled well and molded the team in his image. It seems he has changed the mentality of his players because Everton had not won an away game at a top-six club since December 2013.

However, a win against Tottenham in their opening game of the season ended that terrible record. The win over Spurs in the first game also showed that they are moving in the right direction and a Champions League spot is what they will be aiming. Although it’s early days into the season, Everton has indeed shown signs of improvement in comparison to last season. They will need to maintain the momentum and consistency they are in now, and knowing how experienced Ancelotti is, it looks very likely they can achieve it.

 

Do Everton have the squad to compete?

Ancelotti has gotten the big signings he wanted in the shape of James Rodriguez from Real Madrid, Allan from Napoli, and Abdoulaye Doucoure from Watford. With the kind of signings they have done so far, it is evident that Everton has some big ambitions this season. This trident of talent has hit the ground running despite having a few handfuls of training. James Rodriguez has worked with Ancelotti at Real Madrid and Bayern Munich. Rodriguez has been impressive so far and has deservedly gained plaudits for settling overnight into the Everton’s team. Rodriguez is not the fastest player, but he has a lot of quality. He has complemented Calvert-Lewin with his creativity, which has allowed Richarlison to move back out onto the flanks.

Allan and Doucoure have also ticked both defensive and offensive boxes with their presence in the Everton midfield. Both players are brilliant box to box midfielders and fantastic ball-winners who are more aggressive and mobile. This midfield pairing has so far provided Everton the needed energy to dominate possession, outmaneuver oppositions and protect their center-backs very well. This midfield duo does not only excel personally but also bring the best out of those around them. In the attacking third, Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison have been superb so far. The two forwards were Everton’s joint top scorers last season with 15 goals each in all competitions. With Rodriguez playing behind them, it will not be a surprise if both players score more goals this season. Calvert-Lewin has already scored five goals in three Premier League matches this season. He is young and has the qualities of a striker. He can be a top striker if he adds consistency to his game. Last season, Everton’s defense was very porous, but from the three games they have played so far, their defense looks stable and balanced. Michael Keane and Yerry Mina have been reliable and accurate, while Lucas Digne and Seamus Coleman have also been good both defensively and attacking. In the post,  England number one Jordan Pickford has made some saves and has improved compared to last season, where he committed numerous individual errors. Ancelotti now has a competitive squad, and it will be fascinating to see where his team would place at the end of the season

 

What’s next?

Another daunting task ahead of Ancelotti will be winning trophies for the club. The last time Everton won a significant trophy was in 1995 when they won the FA Cup. Winning the Premier League trophy will be a huge task for him considering the strength of the likes of Liverpool and Man City. However, winning the FA Cup or the Carabao cup is a realistic target for the Italian tactician. Ancelotti has won honors at almost all the clubs he has coached so far. He is a serial winner. A top-four finish and a domestic trophy for Everton will make this season a successful one for Ancelotti in his full season.

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