Everton need home wins to reach Europe, says Ancelotti

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Premier League - Tottenham Hotspur v Everton - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, London, Britain - July 6, 2020 Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Adam Davy/Pool via REUTERS

(Reuters) – Everton must target maximum points from their three remaining home games this season to keep their European qualification hopes alive, manager Carlo Ancelotti said on Wednesday.

Everton are 11th in the Premier League standings with 44 points and suffered their first loss since the restart to Tottenham Hotspur on Monday.

Ancelotti said the focus is now on winning their home games, starting with Thursday’s clash against 13th-placed Southampton, as they look to secure a continental berth.

“The game against Tottenham has gone. The key point (to reach Europe) will be to win our home games and then try to win at Wolves or Sheffield United,” Ancelotti told reporters in a virtual news conference.

“We still have a chance to qualify for the Europa League … it will be really important to win our three home games.”

Everton are six points behind seventh-placed Arsenal who occupy the final Europa League spot, and face relegation-threatened Aston Villa and Bournemouth in their other two upcoming home games.

The Merseyside club’s last campaign in Europe was in the 2017-18 season when they were knocked out in the group stage of the Europa League.

Ancelotti said the game against Southampton will be important and lauded Ralph Hasenhuettl’s team after they won two games on the trot, including a solid 1-0 victory over second-placed Manchester City last weekend.

“Southampton are really well-organised and play with a lot of intensity,” he said. “They defend really well, really high with a lot of pressure.”

Ancelotti confirmed forward Theo Walcott, who has not played since undergoing abdominal surgery last month, will be available for the game at Goodison Park.

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