Carlo Ancelotti praised his players for carrying out a different game plan against Wolves last night, one that yielded another important win that keeps Everton among the clubs chasing European qualification this season.
The Blues atoned for what was one of their worst displays at last season, a 3-0 defeat to Nuno Espirito Santo’s side, by winning 2-1 to temporarily move back into fourth place in the Premier League table.
It was a victory secured without a recognised striker in the starting XI and an improvised line-up that deployed Gylfi Sigurdsson and James Rodriguez as nominal “false nines” in the absence of Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison, with Alex Iwobi and Lucas Digne on the flanks and it paid dividends. as Iwobi and Michael grabbed the goals.
“We knew it would be a difficult game to play here,” Ancelotti admitted to BBC Sport. “Last season we had a bad memory of this game. Today was totally different — different spirit, different attitude and we played the game we had planned.
“We had planned to be safe at the back, don’t concede counter-attacks and to be clinical when the opportunities came.
“We had a different approach. Without Richarlison and Calvert-Lewin, we could play more on the counter-attack, we could play more crosses and [attack down] the flanks with Iwobi and Digne and it worked well because the first goal was a fantastic combination.”
Ancelotti was asked about the second and winning goal from Keane and also why he felt his team has been so good on the road this season where they have now won six times.
“It was fantastic. We are strong there and Michael Keane is unbelievable with his head. It was his birthday [yesterday] and he celebrated really well helping us to stay in a good position in the table.
“A closed door. This is the key [to our away record]. I think that this is the [pattern] in the Premier League — without the crowd, of course, the away team has more advantage and we perform better away because at home we haven’t had the support of our supporters which is really important.
“We played with 2,000 supporters against Chelsea and Arsenal and we won.”
Ancelotti was asked specifically by Sky Sports about the performance of Digne who played 66 minutes against Rotherham last Saturday on his return from ankle surgery and then played the full 90 minutes at Molineux in the left-wing role in place of Richarlison.
“I think he did really well,” the Italian said. “He is not so happy to play in that position but he did it for the team and he did really well [to set up the first goal].”
The Frenchman may have to reprieve the role on Sunday if Everton’s game against Aston Villa goes ahead as Calvert-Lewin will remain an injury doubt. Additionally, Everton will be without key midfield man Abdoulaye Doucouré who misses the next match through suspension after picking up his fifth booking of the season.
“Richarlison [will be back] for sure,” Ancelotti said. “Calvert-Lewin, I don’t think so. Doucouré is a key player and I think [he] was a fantastic signing in the summer. He’s a fantastic guy and a fantastic professional. I think he deserves to rest so it’s not so bad!”
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I do like Ancelotti’s manner, “I think he deserves to rest so it’s not so bad!” – making light of missing a key player, unlike some. Let’s hope he has another cunning plan!
Ancelotti, his staff and the players are right to smile. An excellent display and result from all involved
I am sure his smile would be broader if he can adjust his tactics for home games.
I understand the away set ups but at home we have to be more open and attacking
There has to be a balance somewhere
John(2) – It will come – Rome, as they say, wasn’t built in a day.
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