Everton visit Chelsea in the Premier League on Sunday aiming to continue their resurgence under new manager Carlo Ancelotti.
The Toffees have lost just twice in the league under Ancelotti and they remain in the mix to qualify for Europe next season.
With fourth-placed Chelsea currently eight points ahead of Everton, a victory for the visitors is imperative if they are to make their European dream become a reality.
The trip to the face the Blues at Stamford Bridge will be difficult, but Ancelotti’s side are fancied to grab something from the game.
New boss makes his mark at Everton
Ancelotti was undoubtedly a shrewd appointment by Everton and he has already managed to transform the club’s fortunes.
Having looked like relegation fodder under Marco Silva, the Toffees will head to Stamford Bridge as genuine contenders to qualify for Europe.
The fans are right behind Ancelotti and many of them can be expected to use their winnings from the Videoslots’ Football Star game to back them to beat Chelsea.
When you consider that Everton were in the bottom three after 15 games, their upturn in fortunes is particularly eye-catching.
The Blues have won five and drawn three of their 10 league games under Ancelotti, with the Italian building on the good work done by caretaker boss Duncan Ferguson.
Everton’s only league defeats have been by single goal margins at Manchester City and Arsenal, highlighting how far they have come in a short space of time.
Tactical tweaks working the oracle
Everton conceded 27 goals in their first 15 league games, a shambolic record that ultimately cost Silva his job.
Ancelotti immediately set about addressing that situation and 13 league goals conceded since he took charge is clearly an improvement.
He has also tweaked things further forward, improving the team’s ball retention and passing accuracy statistics.
This has given Everton a platform for success and 18 points from 10 matches under Ancelotti is certainly a step in the right direction.
The Toffees are unlikely to find things easy against a Chelsea team who knocked Liverpool out of the FA Cup in midweek.
However, the Blues have won just twice in the league since the turn of the year and Everton are capable of at least matching them this weekend.
Ancelotti bringing the best out of striker
Another area where Everton look far more potent is in attack, with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Richarlison and Moise Lean all playing with more belief.
Calvert-Lewin in particular has shone since Silva was axed, scoring twice under Ferguson and a further eight since Ancelotti took charge.
The 22-year-old’s upturn in form even saw him linked with a move to Manchester United during the January transfer window – something that would have been unthinkable under Silva.
Calvert Lewin’s performances has been so impressive that the club is set to reward him with a brand-new five-year contract.
He will be a key part of Everton’s bid to pick up three points at Chelsea and could be worth a look in the ‘player to score any time during the game’ market.
With Chelsea having conceded 39 goals in the league this season, Calvert-Lewin will rightly fancy his chances of adding to his tally at Stamford Bridge.
Pickford hoping to ride the storm
While things have generally been on the up-and-up for Everton in recent weeks, goalkeeper Jordan Pickford has been having a bit of a tough time.
His mistake against Crystal Palace at the start of February gifted Christian Benteke an equaliser, although Everton eventually ran out comfortable 3-1 winners in that game.
Pickford then conceded three at Arsenal, before producing another howler last weekend against Manchester United to allow Bruno Fernandes to score.
Some fans have been quick to get on Pickford’s back, but his fantastic save from Odion Ighalo late in the United game highlighted his value to the team.
As with most younger goalkeepers Pickford still has areas for improvement, particularly with regards to concentration, but his positive attributes far outweigh any negatives.
Pickford is still learning his craft, but you can be sure that Ancelotti will give him exactly the kind of guidance he needs.
On form Pickford is one of the best keepers in the Premier League and hopefully he’ll prove that against Chelsea this weekend.
Chelsea vs Everton – The final word
Everton haven’t registered a Premier League victory at Chelsea since 1994, but they have a good chance of ending that run this time around.
The Toffees have looked much-improved under Ancelotti and they are sure to be well-drilled for what will be a tough assignment.
Chelsea played well against Liverpool in the FA Cup during midweek, but their form in the league this year has been patchy.
Everton were unfortunate not to get something from recent trip to Arsenal and are strongly fancied to pick up at least a point this weekend.
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