Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp felt staging the Champions League match against Atletico Madrid at Anfield without restrictions earlier this month was a "criminal act", according to Carlo Ancelotti.

Everton head coach Ancelotti has spoken with Klopp amid the coronavirus pandemic and said the German had concerns over his side’s continental fixture going ahead in front of a full stadium on March 11.

Liverpool went out of the Champions League after the second leg of their last-16 tie ended in a 4-2 aggregate defeat, their last match before top-level football was widely halted due to the outbreak.

Ancelotti told Corriere dello Sport: "I heard from Klopp the other day, he told me that going ahead with the game in those conditions was a criminal act. I think he was right."

Former Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Milan boss Ancelotti predicts there will be an economic "downsizing" after the virus has passed, with football feeling the effects of that.

"We are all living a life that we were not used to and that will change us profoundly," he said. "I'm sure we will all have to downsize, starting with football.

"Today, the priority is health, limiting the contagion. When you start again, when you finish, the dates - believe me, I don't care. At the moment, that's the last thing on my mind.

"I hear talk about cutting salaries, suspension of payments. They seem like inopportune solutions.

"Soon the economy will change, and that's at all levels: The TV rights will be less, players and coaches will earn less, tickets will cost less because people will have less money.

"I repeat, what matters now is to fight the virus effectively. Then, of course, if it will be possible to continue the season... otherwise, amen."

The coronavirus pandemic continued to wreak havoc on the sporting calendar on Saturday with more major events and competitions being disrupted.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 rapidly spreading across the globe, it has resulted in the postponement of competitions worldwide as governments attempt to combat the pandemic.

A small number of events still went ahead, but sports stars, teams and indeed supporters were otherwise left to find other means of entertainment.

With the number of confirmed cases worldwide now totalling over 155,000, we round up all the latest news and updates.

 

Germany's prestige friendly with Italy later this month became the latest football fixture to bite the dust, with the majority of upcoming international matches having now been wiped out.

More major organisations have halted all footballing activities until a later date, including Qatar, Morocco and Egypt.

A small number of competitions, most notably the A-League, Russian Premier League and Mexico's Liga MX, did manage to go ahead as planned.

Indeed, NRL games also avoided the cut, as did a handful of Super Rugby matches before an indefinite ban was put in place later in the day.

Another competition to fall was Australia's one-day international series against New Zealand, which was already being played behind closed doors.

With New Zealand's government introducing strict protocols to attempt to slow the spread of the virus, the Black Caps – along with Super Rugby side Highlanders – returned home from Australia and Argentina respectively in order to beat the new restrictions, which will mean any new arrival to the country, even if they are a citizen, has to self-isolate for 14 days.

With the top-four tiers of English football being shelved until at least early April, there was plenty of focus on the National League as six games were given the green light.

There was some controversy in Argentina as River Plate's Copa Superliga clash with Atletico Tucuman was suspended after the home side refused to open their stadium.

Independiente's tie with Velez Sarsfield was played out in full, albeit behind closed doors, with the hosts claiming a 1-0 victory.

In Italy, Napoli urged their supporters to sing from their balconies in unison as Fiorentina's Patrick Cutrone and two more Sampdoria players tested positive for COVID-19.

Manchester City's Benjamin Mendy revealed a negative test result after recently self-isolating, but Carlo Ancelotti and Angelo Ogbonna questioned the Premier League's handling of the outbreak, while Jordan Pickford denied reports he is self-isolating.

West Ham vice-chairman Karren Brady, meanwhile, claimed the competition should be "void" – a suggestion Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher quickly dismissed.

The lack of football did not stop certain clubs from keeping supporters entertained, though, with LaLiga side Leganes posting live updates of a fictitious match against Real Valladolid, which they won 2-1.

Perhaps inspired by their Spanish counterparts, Southampton got Manchester City involved in an online game of noughts and crosses to help fill the void.

The downtime also gave football stars a chance to recuperate, with Sergio Ramos and Alexis Sanchez among those to post images of their extra-curricular activities.

Others, such as Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson and FIFA president Gianni Infantino, opted to use social media to educate their followers on how to properly wash their hands, while Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi used his profile to echo the sentiments of Cristiano Ronaldo in calling for people to follow the guidance of health organisations.

As Ronaldo and Jurgen Klopp were praised by the World Health Organisation for "protecting people from coronavirus", former United States president Barack Obama hailed a host of NBA stars – including Giannis Antetokounmpo and Zion Williamson – for donating large amounts to help support arena staff during the league's hiatus.

UFC superstar Conor McGregor labelled the pandemic "a stupid f****** virus", but later moved to clarify his aunt did not die after contracting the disease after previously suggesting as such.

And in more positive news, Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe revealed his country still plan for the 2020 Olympic Games to go ahead in Tokyo, starting in late July.

The International Olympic Committee will have the final say, but ABE is confident the Games will be staged "without problem".

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti has questioned the United Kingdom's response to the coronavirus crisis and insisted "football counts for zero" at this point.

The Premier League performed a U-turn on Friday by announcing all games will be suspended until April 3 in wake of a number of high-profile incidents.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta is among those to have contracted COVID-19 and Everton's squad and staff were told to self-isolate after one of their players showed symptoms consistent with the virus.

Ancelotti feels the time is right to postpone football at all levels and is unsure when exactly his side will reconvene to complete their remaining fixtures.

"We're not really self-isolating at all, but some prevention measures did come in after a player had a fever, but his temperature has dropped now and that’s the most important thing," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"The Premier League did stop eventually, and it's about time. It was the right decision faced with the scenario. We couldn't continue. Health is the most important thing for everyone: teams, fans, media, everyone who works in football.

"In theory, we ought to get back to work on March 22, but if the situation should worsen, how can we even think of that? If the coronavirus is still spreading rapidly, football cannot resume.

"Football counts for zero right now and it almost irritates me to be talking about it, faced with the tragedy that is unfolding in front of our eyes. This is a pandemic, a situation none of us had experienced before now."

There have been more than 21,000 confirmed coronavirus cases in Italy, with close to 1,500 deaths - second only to China - while 21 people have died in the UK.

And the Italian coach was unconvinced by comments from Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Thursday when suggesting life should continue as normal.

"The number of deaths in Italy is terrible. In one day, another 250 people died. The priority is to concentrate on this fight, the rest doesn't matter," Ancelotti said.

"Italy were forced to understand that it was time to stop being superficial, they had to respect the orders and stay home, to respect themselves and others during this war.

"I watched Boris Johnson's speech on TV and it seems to be someone here hasn't realised the gravity of the situation. Life continues as normal, to a certain degree."

Carlo Ancelotti admitted Everton failed to compete for the first time since his arrival at the club, but backed them to recover from their 4-0 thrashing by his former team Chelsea.

The Toffees' winless run stands at three Premier League games after goals from Mason Mount, Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud helped Chelsea to an easy win at Stamford Bridge.

Everton are 12th in the table as they prepare for the Merseyside derby against Liverpool at Goodison Park on March 16, but Ancelotti insisted a top-six finish is within reach.

"Everything went wrong," said Ancelotti. "It's not difficult to judge this game, to analyse this game. We were not good enough defensively.

"We were too open, not compact, lost a lot of duels, and with the ball we made a lot of mistakes on passes. So it wasn't a good game. Not a good day, but we can learn from our mistakes.

"Honestly, it's the first time, the first game where we didn't compete. Usually, in the other games, also we didn’t win but we competed until the end of the game.

"We've never talked about Champions League. This team was close to relegation. We are still there, six points from the Europa League. We have to fight for this."

Everton lost only one of their first eight top-flight matches under Ancelotti, but have tasted defeat in two of their last three as they head into a run of games against Liverpool, Leicester City and Tottenham.

Ancelotti was asked about the club's prospects of playing in the Champions League – a competition he won twice with Milan and once with Real Madrid – and the Italian is upbeat about Everton's potential.

"That's the target of the club," he said. "In the future.

"We have to improve, of course. As I said, today we were not at the same level as Chelsea. A week ago, though, we were at the same level as Manchester United.

"You cannot judge a team on one week. At the end of the season we will see where we are. But the future is set: this club wants to be competitive in the Premier League and Europe."

Carlo Ancelotti's return to Stamford Bridge ended with Everton suffering a chastening 4-0 defeat to Chelsea on Sunday.

Everton were completely overwhelmed by a Chelsea midfield that saw Billy Gilmour make his first Premier League start alongside Ross Barkley and Mason Mount, who got the Blues up and running in the 14th minute.

Pedro assisted Mount and was himself on target in the Premier League for the first time since February 2019 seven minutes later – the experienced winger involved in as many goals in the opening 21 minutes as in his previous 21 appearances in the competition.

Willian drove home a powerful effort and set up Olivier Giroud in the space of three second-half minutes to put the result beyond doubt, with Frank Lampard's side claiming just their third top-flight win of the year.

Jordan Pickford did well to keep out Mount's first effort, but the midfielder scored the opener when a sublime first touch while turning on the edge of the box was followed by a sweeping drive into the bottom-left corner.

Willian outpaced Mason Holgate and had a cross-goal effort kept out well by Pickford, before Pedro doubled the hosts' lead by slotting home from Barkley's throughball to finish a wonderful passing move.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin failed to show the prowess in front of goal that earned him a new five-year contract his week, scuffing wide when up against Kepa Arrizabalaga in the goalkeeper's first Premier League game since January 21.

Chelsea picked up where they left off in the second half with Willian arrowing a powerful finish past Pickford in the 51st minute.

Giroud then evaded some dismal marking from Holgate to turn home a curling, first-time delivery from Willian, before Pickford stopped Pedro from making it five.

Lampard handed Premier League debuts to teenagers Faustino Anjorin and Armando Broja off the bench. A good challenge from Djibril Sidibe prevented Anjorin marking the occasion with a goal to round off an already resounding win.
 

What does it mean? Everton a shambles

The Toffees beat Chelsea 3-1 in the reverse fixture at Goodison Park but fell well short of replicating that display in west London.

Ancelotti won the Premier League and FA Cup during two years with the Blues, but his decision to set his team out in a 4-4-2 shape allowed Chelsea to dictate the terms of the match in midfield, while Calvert-Lewin and Richarlison received minimal service.

The benefit of experience

Chelsea's front three of Pedro, Giroud and Willian stood in stark contrast to their youthful midfield, but each of the attacking trio played an important role in the victory. The wingers had a goal and assist each, while Giroud connected the play well.

A bad Davies at the office

Everton were overrun in midfield from minute one, but Tom Davies was guilty of giving Mount too much space ahead of the opener and was nowhere to be seen on the next two goals. He was replaced by Moise Kean in the 58th minute.

What's next?

Chelsea head to Aston Villa next Sunday, while Everton have a Merseyside derby against Premier League leaders Liverpool awaiting a week on Monday.

Frank Lampard lauded Carlo Ancelotti as a "fantastic manager" ahead of Everton's trip to Chelsea on Sunday, insisting the Italian will be warmly received at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues boss will again come up against a former coach of his, having got the better of Jose Mourinho's Tottenham two weeks ago.

With Chelsea buoyed by their midweek FA Cup win over Liverpool, their bid for a top-four finish in the Premier League continues with the visit of Ancelotti's side.

Asked what sort of reception Ancelotti will get on returning to the club where he won the 2009-10 league and FA Cup double, Lampard said: "A very good one. He is very well respected in-house and by the fans.

"He is a gentleman, a fantastic manager. It was a good season under him.

"He is a great man-manager. On a personal level, he's great at striking up relationships. He's good tactically and has a great manner.

"I kept in touch with him now and again."

Lampard's injury worries have showed few signs of easing, with the likes of Tammy Abraham, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mateo Kovacic, Christian Pulisic, N'Golo Kante and Callum Hudson-Odoi – the latter of whom suffered a fresh setback on his return to training – definitely sidelined.

Willian will be assessed after suffering an Achilles injury against Liverpool, having opened the scoring in that game. 

On the setback for Hudson-Odoi, who will undergo a scan on Friday, Lampard said: "It's tough, he wasn't rushed back, we had all the signs that he was fit to train. Then he re-injured it on his first training session with us.

"So it's frustrating for him definitely, a young boy who's keen to play, as you'd expect, and it's frustrating because it's another injury to us.

"It hasn't been spoken about that much, but we've had probably the worst injury list of certainly the top group of the table I think, lots of numbers injured, important players injured, Kante, Loftus-Cheek etcetera.

"We started the season that way and it's happened again in the middle of the season, and we're working against that to try to get the best results."

Fourth-placed Chelsea, who are three points clear of Manchester United and Wolves, were beaten 3-1 at Goodison Park in December, when Duncan Ferguson was in charge of the Toffees on a temporary basis.

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti has avoided a touchline ban from the Football Association (FA) for angrily remonstrating with a referee on the pitch following the 1-1 draw with Manchester United.

Chris Kavanagh sent Ancelotti off for his protestations at full-time on Sunday, with the Italian livid that Dominic Calvert-Lewin had seen a would-be winner ruled out after a VAR review because Gylfi Sigurdsson was adjudged to be offside.

Sigurdsson had been lying on the floor and had lifted his legs to allow Calvert-Lewin's deflected shot to go past him and into the net, with United goalkeeper David de Gea believing he was unsighted by the Iceland midfielder.

The FA fined Ancelotti £8,000 after he conceded "his language and/or behaviour on the field of play at the end of the fixture amounted to improper conduct and also accepted the standard penalty".

Speaking after the game, Ancelotti insisted he had not been disrespectful towards Kavanagh.

"I asked for an explanation after the game. There was a misunderstanding on the pitch and he sent me off," Ancelotti said.

"After that I spoke with him calmly in the dressing room. I want to keep our conversation private and now he will make a report for the FA and we will see.

"I didn't disrespect him, but I can understand because, for the referee, there were a lot of important decisions at the end of the game. But I didn't disrespect him.

"It was a difficult decision because they checked the position of Gylfi, and it was offside, but in our opinion it didn't affect the vision of the goalkeeper. In their opinion it affected the vision and movement of the goalkeeper."

The 60-year-old has escaped a more severe punishment, meaning he will be able to take his place in the dugout against former club Chelsea on Sunday.

Ancelotti spent two seasons at Stamford Bridge between 2009 and 2011, winning a Premier League and FA Cup double in his first campaign.

Carlo Ancelotti has been charged with misconduct by the Football Association (FA) after being sent off following Everton's draw with Manchester United.

The Toffees boss was seen remonstrating with referee Chris Kavanagh at full-time of the 1-1 draw at Goodison Park on Sunday, leading to the official brandishing a red card.

Ancelotti was angered by the decision to rule out a late Dominic Calvert-Lewin goal, which was chalked off following a VAR review as Gylfi Sigurdsson was lying on the floor in front of United goalkeeper David de Gea when in an offside position.

Former Chelsea boss Ancelotti will reportedly avoid a touchline ban if he accepts the charge, for which he has until Thursday to respond.

An FA statement read: "Carlo Ancelotti has been charged with misconduct for a breach of FA Rule E3.

"It is alleged that the Everton FC manager's language and/or behaviour on the field of play at the end of the Premier League fixture against Manchester United FC on Sunday 1 March 2020 amounts to improper conduct.

"He has until Thursday 5 March 2020 to provide a response."

Speaking after the game, Ancelotti insisted he had not been disrespectful towards Kavanagh.

"I asked for an explanation after the game. There was a misunderstanding on the pitch and he sent me off," Ancelotti said.

"After that I spoke with him calmly in the dressing room. I want to keep our conversation private and now he will make a report for the FA and we will see.

"I didn't disrespect him, but I can understand because, for the referee, there were a lot of important decisions at the end of the game. But I didn't disrespect him.

"It was a difficult decision because they checked the position of Gylfi, and it was offside, but in our opinion it didn't affect the vision of the goalkeeper. In their opinion it affected the vision and movement of the goalkeeper."

Everton forward Dominic Calvert-Lewin was in disbelief at the officials' decision to rule out his late goal against Manchester United through a contentious VAR call.

Sunday's Premier League clash at Goodison Park was poised at 1-1 when Calvert-Lewin's shot deflected off Harry Maguire and beat David de Gea at his near post in the 92nd minute.

But Everton's celebrations were cut short as the technology adjudged Gylfi Sigurdsson, who was lying on the floor in an offside position, had interfered with play when moving to allow the ball to go past him and into the net.

However, Calvert-Lewin insisted De Gea - who denied Sigurdsson with a fine save moments beforehand - was never going to keep out the shot anyway and the goal should therefore have stood.

Watching the incident back on a monitor in the tunnel, he told Sky Sports: "That is a disaster! Oh my gosh. He's not even obstructing the line of sight.

"In the moment, I wasn't sure. Seeing it back I think Gylfi on the floor doesn't obstruct the line of sight.

"Fair enough, he's in an offside position but then it takes a deflection, the keeper is going the other way and he's got his legs out of the way. 

"The keeper is never going to save the ball so I'm not sure what it is. 

"For me, as a striker, I think it's a goal but VAR says otherwise and cancels out the emotion at the end. What can you do?"

Calvert-Lewin had earlier profited from a De Gea error to give Everton the lead inside 160 seconds, but Bruno Fernandes caught out Jordan Pickford with a long-ranger to level up.

Both Pickford and De Gea redeemed themselves with impressive second-half saves, though the big talking point came right at the end when the hosts were denied a likely winner.

And Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti, shown a red card after the full-time whistle for protesting the decision, was also unsure why the goal was chalked off.

"Sigurdsson was offside but, in our opinion, it didn't affect the vision of the goalkeeper," he said at his post-match news conference.

"I asked for an explanation after the game. There was a misunderstanding and I was sent off. I spoke to the referee after the game, but that will remain private.

"I didn't disrespect him. We will see. It was a difficult decision."

Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has become a better manager since last year.

After a run of two wins in seven games in all competitions at the start of 2020, the Red Devils have shown encouraging signs of progress in recent weeks, particularly since the arrival of January signing Bruno Fernandes.

Thursday's 5-0 Europa League thrashing of Club Brugge stretched United's unbeaten run to seven matches, while they have kept clean sheets in six of those.

With a Europa League last-16 tie with LASK and an FA Cup fifth-round trip to Derby County to come, United have high hopes of ending the season with a trophy.

They are also just three points outside the Premier League's top four, making a return to the Champions League a realistic possibility.

Solskjaer's job appeared to be under scrutiny during the their more difficult runs this season, but Matic, who initially struggled for regular first-team football under the Norwegian but has become increasingly important to the side, thinks his manager is getting better with experience.

"He's improving, for sure, getting more experience, and for sure he will be better and better," Matic told Sky Sports.

"Like every manager … Carlo Ancelotti, now and 20 years ago, for sure he's not the same. He knows more, he has more experience. For sure, it will be the same as Ole.

"He is a much better manager than one year ago, in my opinion, because now he knows all the players, he knows exactly what he needs to do before the game, after the game. For his job, experience is very important."

United face Everton at Goodison Park in the Premier League on Sunday before the cup clash with Derby on March 5.

They then host Premier League champions Manchester City on March 8.

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hopes he can persuade Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to stay with the club after the striker's double secured a thrilling 3-2 win over Everton.

The former Borussia Dortmund frontman is 30 and has been linked with other clubs, including Inter and Barcelona, as he approaches the final year of his contract.

With only a slim chance of Arsenal qualifying for next season's Champions League, it would not be surprising if Aubameyang were questioning where he will spend the final peak years of his career.

But the Gunners see him as a big part of their future, and his clinical double against Everton was further proof of his value to the team, according to Arteta.

"He's our most important player," Arteta told Sky Sports News. "Stats-wise, there's no questions about the impact he has with this team, so as much as I can and the club can, we will try to convince him to stay with us."

Arteta saluted his team's spirit after they made it three wins in a week, having beaten Newcastle United 4-0 last Sunday and landed a 1-0 victory at Olympiacos on Thursday in the Europa League.

Aubameyang scored what proved to be the winner just 24 seconds into the second half.

"The best thing is the spirit we showed. That's coming back from Europe, three games in seven days, conceding a goal in the first minute, the way we reacted," Arteta said.

"The way we played for 60-65 minutes was exactly what I want from my team.

"And the resilience some of the players showed when they were absolutely knackered, and they kept going and going and going – this is exactly what I want."

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti criticised his team for allowing Arsenal's forwards such glaring goal chances, with Eddie Nketiah volleying a close-range leveller before Aubameyang plundered his brace, all after Dominic Calvert-Lewin had put them ahead in the first minute.

"I think the performance offensively was good, really good, we had a lot of opportunities. Defensively, it was really poor," Ancelotti said. "We conceded three goals and it's not acceptable to concede three goals. If you concede three goals like this, normally you lose the game.

"When we were able to score at the end of the first half we knew because they played on Thursday that they could lose energy at the end.

"They lost energy, but we were 3-2 down. We had opportunities to score but we conceded three goals too easily.

"The forwards played really well. We had two fantastic strikers and the full-backs pushed in the second half when there was more space.

"Offensively we were really good; defensively, no. We are [moving] in the right direction but these are mistakes where you have to learn."

Ancelotti indicated he had wanted to start with Andre Gomes in midfield, but the Portuguese playmaker was not in favour of playing from the off after returning from the ankle injury he sustained against Tottenham in November.

"When Andre came in, the team improved a lot with the possession," Ancelotti said.

"I have seen him in training. He trained without problem. I was sure he could play from the beginning. He was not so sure to start. He will start the next game."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was at his Sunday best to deliver a 3-2 victory for Arsenal in a Premier League thriller against Everton.

The forward’s double followed a close-range volley from Eddie Nketiah as Arsenal fended off an Everton side who lost for just the second time in the league under Carlo Ancelotti.

Everton stunned Emirates Stadium with a first-minute opener from Dominic Calvert-Lewin and also scored through Richarlison in stoppage time at the end of the first half.

But they were rocked by Aubameyang putting Arsenal back in front just 24 seconds into the second half, and despite a heartening return to action for Andre Gomes, the Toffees finished without reward.

Aubameyang's heroics took his Premier League goals haul to 32 in 38 games played on Sundays, compared to a more modest 17 in 36 matches on all other days.

Everton made a dream start thanks to Calvert-Lewin's overhead kick.

David Luiz flunked an attempted headed clearance from Gylfi Sigurdsson's free-kick as the ball reached the heart of the Arsenal penalty area, and it looped up perfectly for Everton's number nine.

Arsenal lost left-back Sead Kolasinac to an early arm injury but had buccaneering teenager Bukayo Saka as an ideal replacement.

The hosts perked up and it was Saka who provided the delicious left-wing cross that Nketiah volleyed in from close range for a 27th-minute leveller, his second Premier League goal.

Aubameyang then snuck behind the Everton defence to meet a fine throughball from David Luiz - the defender demonstrating one of his more reliable attributes - to nudge the Gunners in front six minutes later.

Everton made it 2-2 just before the break when Sigurdsson's mis-hit shot was headed on by Yerry Mina, and Richarlison, booked moments earlier after diving in late on Dani Ceballos, scrambled past goalkeeper Bernd Leno.

But Arsenal were back in front early in the second half when Aubameyang met Nicolas Pepe's cross from the right and thundered a downwards header past Jordan Pickford.

Just before the hour mark, Everton introduced Gomes off the bench in place of Morgan Schneiderlin, giving the former Barcelona midfielder his first outing since the shocking ankle dislocation he suffered against Tottenham in November.

Arsenal, coming off a long trip to Greece for Thursday's Europa League clash with Olympiacos, looked to be tiring. Calvert-Lewin should have put Everton level but Leno made a fine block to thwart the striker, and Mikel Arteta's side hung on for the points.

They almost had a fourth goal when Nketiah struck the bar after a Pickford error, though were relieved to see a late Calvert-Lewin header drift wide of the target.

Andre Gomes is available to feature for Everton against Arsenal on Sunday, with Carlo Ancelotti open to starting the midfielder.

Gomes has been out of action since November after suffering a serious ankle injury in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham at Goodison Park.

The playmaker's absence, along with injuries and suspensions to Morgan Schneiderlin, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fabian Delph, has left the Toffees lacking in midfield options at times in the intervening period.

However, the former Barcelona player returned to training in January and, after completing a 60-minute training match this week, has now been passed fit to return for Sunday's clash with Arsenal at Emirates Stadium.

Everton sit two points ahead of Mikel Arteta's side, with both clubs chasing European qualification, and Ancelotti is prepared to start Gomes if the player feels he is ready.

"Andre is available to play. He trained well, properly, with confidence and without problems," Ancelotti, who added Theo Walcott is likely to miss out through injury against his former club, told a news conference.

"My opinion is he is ready to play. Before the game we are going to speak together and decide whether he can start the game or if he goes on the bench.

"We have very important games. Now we have to focus on Arsenal, then we have Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool. After we can see what is going on for Europe."

Everton are in search of a third successive Premier League win, with the Toffees having lost just one top-flight match since Marco Silva was sacked in early December.

Goals from Richarlison and Dominic Calvert-Lewin ultimately sealed a 3-1 win over Crystal Palace last time out, though Jordan Pickford's mistake had allowed Christian Benteke to cancel out Bernard's opener.

Ancelotti, though, has complete faith in the England international goalkeeper.

"To be England number one is a big responsibility," Ancelotti said. "He deserves this because, in my opinion, he is the best English goalkeeper.

"In the game against Crystal Palace he made a mistake but then a fantastic save. You can have a mistake, but you need the personality to move on quickly.

"Jordan is really important for us, he is a complete goalkeeper."

Everton's brilliant resurgence under Carlo Ancelotti continued with a comfortable 3-1 win over struggling Crystal Palace at Goodison Park on Saturday.

The Toffees were in the relegation zone when Marco Silva was sacked in December, but victory against Palace – who have now lost three in a row – leaves Everton just five points behind fourth-placed Chelsea.

Bernard put Everton ahead in the 18th minute when he volleyed home Theo Walcott's delivery and the hosts remained in charge until early in the second half, as Jordan Pickford allowed Christian Benteke's effort to go under him.

Everton were back in front soon after, however – Richarlison darting through the Palace defence before finding the bottom corner.

Palace did threaten another equaliser, but Dominic Calvert-Lewin converted from close range late on after Richarlison's headed attempt came back off the crossbar, wrapping up a fifth Premier League win in eight matches for Everton. 

At the Amex Stadium, an Adrian Mariappa own goal prevented Watford lifting themselves out of the bottom three, as Brighton and Hove Albion claimed a 1-1 draw.

Abdoulaye Doucoure gave Watford a 19th-minute lead with a fine finish from just outside the area after Aaron Mooy had squandered possession.

There were few other moments of excitement until Brighton levelled 11 minutes from time – Mariappa, under no pressure, emphatically sending an Alireza Jahanbakhsh cross into his own net.

Watford remain in the relegation zone, while Brighton stay three points better off in 15th.

A 5-2 defeat to Merseyside rivals Liverpool on December 4 left Everton in the Premier League relegation zone and facing the realistic prospect of a fight for top-flight survival.

The loss at Anfield proved to be the final straw for Marco Silva, who has flattered to deceive with Watford and now Everton following a spell at Hull City that he was largely praised for, despite suffering relegation.

Ten games on, and with a helping hand from interim boss Duncan Ferguson along the way, Carlo Ancelotti has ninth-placed Everton eyeing Europa League football next season.

The Toffees have lost one of their past 10 league games - seven of those under Ancelotti - compared to eight defeats in Silva's final 11 matches.

Indeed, only Merseyside rivals Liverpool have won more points over that time than Everton's 19, suggesting the Italian coach is well on course to transforming their fortunes.

Ahead of Saturday's visit of Crystal Palace, a side they are unbeaten against in 10 league meetings, we used Opta data to look at what exactly has changed under Ancelotti.


 

CALVERT-LEWIN AND RICHARLISON LEADING THE WAY 

Everton have scored in all seven league games during Ancelotti's short time at the club, netting 11 times in total at an average of 1.6 goals per game. 

That is in comparison to 20 goals in 18 games prior to the veteran manager's arrival - 1.1 per match - which is a clear improvement. 

Dominic Calvert-Lewin has been responsible for five of those 11 goals and Richarlison - absent for a couple of games with a knee injury - has also chipped in with two. 

Fellow attacker Moise Kean finally got off the mark in the 2-2 draw with Newcastle United, while Theo Walcott scored for the first time this season last time out. 

Many aspects of the Toffees' play has changed over the past six weeks, arguably none more so than the way they try to create opportunities for their attacking players. 

Everton's build-up attacks - an open play sequence containing 10 or more passes that either ends in a shot or at least one touch in the box - has increased from 1.2 per game to 2.3.

Direct attacks have dropped from 1.6 to 1.4 each match by comparison, meaning Ancelotti has got his side passing the ball more and - even more importantly - doing something with it at the end of attacking moves.

MORE CHANCES BEING CREATED 

Everton used a back five in Silva's final two games - defeats to Leicester City and Liverpool - but have since reverted to a 4-4-2, spearheaded by the ever-present Calvert-Lewin. 

Despite the shift in system and more emphasis on passing the ball around the pitch, there is still a reliance on set-pieces, counter-attacks and crosses into the box for their goals. 

That was highlighted in the dramatic win at Watford last weekend when Yerry Mina twice scored from a corner and Walcott rounded off a swift counter late on.

Many Evertonians will argue their side still lack a creator, which could be down to Ancelotti's reluctance to tweak his formation slightly. 

But as the Opta data shows, Everton are now creating significantly more big chances - from an average of 1.9 per game before Ancelotti to 2.9 in the seven games since. 

The Merseyside club's expected goals figure has also risen from 1.3 to 1.9 in seven games under the Italian, so improvements have been made in that regard as well.

LESS FOCUS ON PRESSING 

If Ancelotti has managed to get more out of his attack, the same is true at the opposite end of the field. In fact, it could be argued he has improved both aspects in equal measure. 

In perfect symmetry to the average goals-for stat, Everton have conceded 1.1 per game under Ancelotti compared to 1.6 before - a large number of those coming via set-pieces. 

Everton are tackling less and intercepting at an almost identical rate, yet they have two clean sheets in seven games, compared to two in their previous 10 outings.

One tweak that could explain this relative improvement is the number of pressed sequences, defined as an opposition move of three or fewer passes that ends within 40 metres of their own goal. That figure stood at 15.4 under Silva and Ferguson but has since dropped to 11.9. 

Combine that with the decline in high turnovers and it seems clear Ancelotti has told his players to focus less on pressing and more on keeping their shape.

The performances may have been mixed on the face of it, but Ancelotti is slowly transforming this Everton side and could have them aiming higher than the Europa League with more time and investment.

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