Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti has urged his players not to allow their latest setback to derail their good work over December.
The Toffees came through last month with victories over the likes of Chelsea, Leicester and Arsenal but the new year started with a frustrating 1-0 defeat at home to West Ham.
Between mid-October and the re-emergence of their good form a month ago Ancelotti’s side went through a spell of just one win in seven matches and he is keen to ensure they do not suffer a similar fate.
“The momentum was good, we had difficult games and a good run but it has stopped,” said the Italian.
“It will be important to keep our belief and confidence high.
“We have players with quality who are not in their best condition, like James (Rodriguez) and Richarlison, who was coming back from a concussion.
“Dominic (Calvert-Lewin) had a problem during the game and was not 100 per cent.
“We have the possibility in the next eight days to have players in better condition, players who were not able to train in the past weeks, and look forward with belief.”
Everton have eight days before they face Rotherham at home in an FA Cup third-round tie.
Against a Championship side they are likely to encounter a similar scenario to that against the Hammers, enjoying the majority of the possession with the expectation on them to create the most chances.
However, their four-match winning streak in December was based on making the most of having less ball than their opponents.
Ancelotti admits it is something they have to work on.
“In this moment, we are more comfortable defending and using the counter-attack,” he added.
“When we have the ball we have more difficulties and we have to adjust this.
“This defeat disappointed us but it doesn’t change our target.”
Ancelotti expects to have Michael Keane, who has been a key man in defence this season, and Alex Iwobi back for the cup tie after both sat out the West Ham game.
“Both of them will be available for the next game in the FA Cup,” he said.
“It was fatigue and nothing more, both of them. Michael wasn’t the best and didn’t train in the last few days and Iwobi will be OK in the next few days.”
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