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Carlo Ancelotti happy for Everton to keep defending deep after Leicester draw

By January 28, 2021No Comments

Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti insists the tactic of defending deep is actually a strength of his side and he has no concerns about its long-term effects or the perception it creates.

For long periods in the second half of their 1-1 draw with Leicester the home side sat back, often dropping into a 5-4-1 to soak up pressure.

While that may have caused consternation had Goodison Park been packed to the rafters with fans, an empty stadium meant there was no anxiety transferred to the players and although they were conceding lots of possession they were not giving up chances.

Had another error from England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford not resulted in a Foxes equaliser, a side which had conceded three in their last six league matches could well have held on for the victory which would have lifted them back into the top four.

“I think we don’t have to be worried to defend deep because when we defend deep we are strong,” said Ancelotti, whose Italian roots mean he is more than comfortable setting up his side to protect a lead.

“The problem was not to defend deep. When we had the ball we didn’t have opportunities to play as we wanted: to find players between the lines, to play more for James (Rodriguez), to play more for our strikers.

“We did that when they equalised, we had more control.

“I think it is important to know how we are, how we play, what qualities we have and we showed the quality we have and we are very comfortable now defensively.

“They (Leicester) had a lot of control of the ball but clear opportunities they didn’t have.”

Ancelotti had said pre-match that he felt this week would decide whether they would be challenging for Champions League qualification.

Struggling Newcastle, who have lost seven and drawn two of their last nine league matches, visit on Saturday and Everton will be expected to take the game to them.

“It is a good point (against Leicester) if we win on Saturday,” added Ancelotti.

For Leicester a draw denied them the chance to go level on points with Premier League leaders Manchester City.

They missed the cutting edge Jamie Vardy – currently recovering from a groin operation – gives them, with Ayoze Perez an anonymous replacement.

“There is probably no-one in the world who offers that penetration of the last line which Jamie Vardy does and we have to play in a different way and I thought we did that,” said manager Brendan Rodgers.

“There is a responsibility for all the players to score, not just him (Perez). I thought he worked very hard for the team.”

Rodgers believes his side have shown huge strides over the last 12 months and are learning how to deal with challenges better.

“We are looking to develop how we respond,” said the Foxes boss, who said they will assess injuries to Wilfred Ndidi (hamstring) and Jonny Evans (blurred vision) before Sunday’s visit of Leicester.

“I think it is something that comes with maturity and these games and the knocks the team have taken.

“We showed that courage to keep playing, getting on the ball and keep attacking the game while restricting to Everton to hardly any opportunities.”