Carlo Ancelotti admits Everton surprise in Champions League race

Carlo Ancelotti admits he is surprised by the start to the season Everton have made in their chase for European football.

Everton have won their last three games in the Premier League and went up to second in the table following victory over Arsenal on Saturday evening.

Ancelotti is targeting European qualification after arriving at Goodison Park 12 months previous but admitted finishing in the top four remains a ‘really complicated’ task.

Yet the three-time Champions League winner also believes Everton ‘deserve’ their lofty position in the table and praised the work of his squad after several injuries to key players.

When asked if he thought Everton would be firmly in the race for elite European football at this stage of the campaign, Ancelotti said: “No, I didn’t think [so], honestly. That means the job the players are doing is a fantastic job.

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“We had problems, we had injuries, as have all the other teams, and we had a difficult moment.

“But we are able to adapt to all of these things. Honestly, we deserve to be there. The job my players are doing is really good.”

Everton next turn out in the Premier League at bottom-club Sheffield United, who are still to record a single win on Boxing Day before welcoming Manchester City to Merseyside in their final game of the calendar year.

Ancelotti believes targeting Champions League football will add ‘more motivation’ to his team for the second-half of the campaign.

The Italian added: “I think to arrive at the end of the season in the top four will be really difficult and really complicated.

“As I said, our target is to compete for the European positions. We are now in the European positions, in the top four, but the season is long.

“But we need to have the ambition, I think. The ambition will help us have more motivation.”

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