Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti is reluctant to declare his side contenders for a Champions League place despite making significant progress this season.
Wednesday’s victory over Leicester, coupled with Tottenham’s defeat by Liverpool, put the Toffees within two points of second place.
At the start of the season Ancelotti said he wanted the club to contest a European place but having finished 12th in the previous campaign that was realistically expected to be the Europa League.
Even now, with his side fifth in the table a third of the way through the season, the Italian is reluctant to publicly raise ambitions.
“We can think this but we have to consider the top of the table is really compressed and there are a lot of teams with 20-plus points: Villa have more games to play, City is a little bit back, it is so compressed,” he said.
“We don’t want to look too far. We have an important Arsenal game (on Saturday) and we prepare to do our best.
“The momentum is good and we want to keep the momentum good.”
Monday marks the one-year anniversary of Ancelotti’s appointment as manager.
He inherited a side which had been threatened with relegation in the final months of Marco Silva’s reign but, with his vast experience and some significant summer investment, he has turned things around.
“We have progressed. The position in the table is good compared to when I arrived,” Ancelotti added.
“The season started four months ago we need another six months to do well and reach our target and that is to reach a European position.”
At Goodison he will encounter a young manager in Mikel Arteta who is also about to mark his 12-month anniversary at the club but, after an FA Cup win, finds himself in a different position just five points off the bottom three.
The Toffees boss did not think it his place to offer the former Everton midfielder some guidance, however.
“I don’t have advice. I think our job is difficult and complicated but it is absolutely normal,” he said.
“I think all the managers have pressure because everyone has to reach a target. Arsenal maybe has a different goal from other teams but I think it will be the same for every manager.
“Pressure is absolutely normal and I don’t need to give advice on this.”
Ancelotti will welcome back Seamus Coleman back from a hamstring injury for the game after a two-month absence but will be without James Rodriguez for the third successive match and midfielder Allan, who is set for a spell on the sidelines after sustaining a calf injury in midweek.
England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford will also return after being rested at Leicester.
“Coleman is available, Rodriguez not yet, it is too soon to put him at risk. He is working individually and I hope he can be ready for the (Carabao Cup) game against Manchester United,” he said.
“The problem is a little problem in his calf and he is in recovery, nothing special.”
On Pickford he added: “I consider a goalkeeper a player and, as we rotate defenders and strikers, sometimes I want to rotate goalkeepers.
“I started in Real Madrid, when I had two great goalkeepers, so I have no problem with this.
“There is less risk to do mistakes, if you stay on the bench for sure you are going to do a mistake (when you play).”
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