June 19, 2021

Everton ‘not at same level’ as Liverpool despite derby draw, admits Ancelotti

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The Italian head coach is not getting carried away with the Toffees’ fine start to the 2020-21 Premier League campaign

Carlo Ancelotti has admitted that Everton are not at the same level as Liverpool despite earning a draw against the Premier League champions in Saturday’s Merseyside derby.

Everton held Liverpool to a 2-2 draw at Goodison Park to maintain their unbeaten start to the new season at the weekend.

Sadio Mane, who returned to the fold after making a full recovery from coronavirus, gave the visitors an early lead when he fired into the net after being set up by Andrew Robertson in the box.

The Toffees were somewhat fortunate not to see goalkeeper Jordan Pickford sent off for a rash challenge on Virgil Van Dijk soon after, which forced the Reds defender off the pitch and left Jurgen Klopp enraged on the touchline.

Everton then managed to get themselves back into the game via a Michael Keane header, and the scoreline remained at 1-1 until the second half as both sides pushed for an all-important winner.

Liverpool finally managed to regain the lead twenty minutes from time as Mohamed Salah volleyed home his 100th goal for the club, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin hauled the hosts level once again when he headed in a Lucas Digne cross.

Klopp’s men thought they’d snatched all three points when Jordan Henderson swept the ball past Pickford in stoppage time, but the goal was ruled out for an offside in the build-up following a VAR review.

The final result ensured Everton remain top of the Premier League standings by a single point ahead of Aston Villa having played a game more, with the Reds sitting two points further back in third.

Ancelotti was pleased with how his team performed against their local rivals, but still sees a significant gulf in quality between the two sides.

“I think we have improved in this game, we competed well, properly,” the Italian head coach said after the game.

“Of course, it is really difficult and this doesn’t mean we are at the same level as them (Liverpool) because we are not, but I think it could be a target for us, to be able to reach not the same level but to compete against them like we competed, like an old Merseyside derby.

“I think it is time we start to think we can win as it is too much Everton is not able to win a derby.

“I think the level we have reached now is a good level. We have seen we can compete but the problem for the season is the consistency the team needs to have and I hope we can keep this quality and attitude to show consistency.”

Pickford’s form has been a cause for concern for the Toffees in recent weeks, and Ancelotti has opened the door for Roma loanee Robin Olsen to take his spot if he proves himself in training as the season progresses.

“Robin is a good goalkeeper. We signed him because I think he can help the squad to be better and all the players in the squad are there to compete to play,” he added. “This is the role of Robin Olsen. They have to compete in training, working hard with good spirit and attitude and then I’m going to make the line-up.”