Everton face stern test of Ancelotti-led revival

LONDON (AFP) – Carlo Ancelotti said Everton are ready for an acid test of their revival under his leadership as the Champions League hopefuls head to Arsenal today at the start of a tough run of games.

Ancelotti’s side have taken 17 points from his eight Premier League matches in charge – a return bettered only by runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool (24) over the same period – and have moved from 15th to ninth since the Italian arrived in December.

There are more tests lying in wait for the Toffees after the trip to north London, with home games against Manchester United and Liverpool and a trip to fourth-placed Chelsea offering a closer examination of their European credentials.

“Of course we have to be focussed on Arsenal, but if we want to think about Europe there are very important games after Arsenal,” Ancelotti said.

“We have to play against United, Chelsea and Liverpool. After these four games we can see what’s going for Europe.”

Everton arrive at the Emirates Stadium this weekend looking to close the five-point gap on Chelsea as they attempt to gatecrash the battle for Champions League.

Manchester City’s two-year European ban has opened the door for the team that finishes fifth to qualify for next season’s tournament, pending the result of City’s appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.

However, Everton’s only meetings with England’s elite have ended in defeat since Ancelotti took over, with Manchester City beating them in the league and a youthful Liverpool side handing them a disappointing FA Cup exit.