(Reuters) - Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti said his players must relish the opportunity to test themselves against the best teams ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League clash against defending champions Manchester City.
Everton also face their local rivals and European champions Liverpool in the third round of the FA Cup on Sunday, and the Italian is confident he can continue his strong start at the club having taken over from Marco Silva this month.
“Against City it’ll be a fantastic test to see where we are. They are a really strong team but we have confidence to do our best,” Ancelotti told a news conference on Tuesday.
“At the moment it is good to have this kind of test. Also against Liverpool. We have to try to be competitive against the top teams of England and Europe.”
Everton beat Burnley 1-0 in Ancelotti’s first game in charge and followed it up with a 2-1 win over Newcastle United to climb to 10th in the standings, building a five-match unbeaten run in the Premier League that began under caretaker manager Duncan Ferguson.
“Am I surprised? No, because we are working to try and win games,” Ancelotti added. “I was surprised with the spirit of the team. I think the work Duncan did was really good.
“I found the players with character, with good attitude so I think this was the reason I didn’t change a lot... The players showed confidence in games, and I hope this can continue in the next games which are really difficult.
“We don’t have time to try things in training because this isn’t the period. It can be dangerous to change a lot because players can be confused. So little changes in this period, and focus on games.”
Ancelotti said any talks on strengthening his team in the January transfer window would take place after the Merseyside derby against Liverpool.
Midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin will miss the game against third-placed City with a calf injury but could return against Liverpool.
Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson