Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti insists a 2-2 draw with Liverpool in the 237th Merseyside derby does not mean they can consider themselves the equals of the defending Premier League champions.
Although twice coming from behind to earn a point, the result extended their winless run against their neighbours to 23 matches, with the game marking the 10th anniversary of their last victory.
They will, however, finish the weekend top of the table and that lofty position is largely due to the standards Ancelotti has drilled into his players.
“I think we have improved in this game, we competed well, properly,” he said.
“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.”
Consistency is becoming a problem for goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who was lucky to escape a red card for his knee-high challenge on Virgil Van Dijk inside 10 minutes.
The England goalkeeper made a couple of decent saves from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip and then managed to fumble a Jordan Henderson shot over the line in added time, only to be reprieved by the most marginal of VAR offside decisions.
Having insisted only a couple of weeks ago – after more Pickford errors – he was not planning to strengthen his goalkeeping options, he made a deadline-day move to bring in Roma’s Robin Olsen on loan and he was on the bench on Saturday for the first time.
Ancelotti wants him to provide much-needed competition for Pickford with the by-product being he will either drive up the standards of England number one or ultimately replace him.
“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,” added the Italian.
“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.”
Get the best features, fun and footballing frolics straight to your inbox every week.
Thank you for signing up to Four Four Two. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.