Sheffield United-Everton Preview
Everton will continue to build next season, regardless of whether they secure European football in the remaining games of 2020-21, Carlo Ancelotti has promised.
The Toffees' hopes took another hit on Thursday as they failed to win their game in hand, drawing 0-0 at Aston Villa.
Everton's away form has generally been superb, with 11 wins this season, but their performances at Goodison Park has left much to be desired and, heading into their final three matches, they are involved in a tussle for a Europa League or UEFA Conference League place.
But Ancelotti has insisted that Everton will progress with new additions over the transfer window, with Europe merely an added bonus.
"Europe is still our target. It will be a quicker step forward but next season we will step forward anyway, whether we are in Europe or not doesn't change our progression," Ancelotti said.
Lowly Sheffield United visit Goodison Park on Sunday.
Ancelotti added: "We expect to play against a team that wants to play and that we have to respect.
"They are a team that will fight for this game because they want to finish the season with dignity and that is normal, and we have to pay attention because the home run was not good, so we would like to close this season at home with two good results."
The Blades suffered yet another defeat when they went down 2-0 to Crystal Palace last time out, though one positive was the performance of teenager Daniel Jebbison from the bench.
"He's only 17 so he's a million miles away from being the finished player but he's someone who's worked extremely hard this season and we've been pleased with him," Paul Heckingbottam said.
"If he performs like that, keeps improving, keeps learning, I'm sure he'll get more minutes."
Everton - James Rodriguez
Everton are so reliant on James Rodriguez to create their chances, but the Colombian has endured an injury hit campaign and has missed the last three games, with Everton taking just four points. He is due back for Sunday, and the Toffees need him at his best.
Sheffield United - Aaron Ramsdale
Aaron Ramsdale is the only Blades player to feature in all 28 Premier League defeats this season - a defeat here would see him equal the record for most defeats by a player in a single season in the competition, held by Dean Whitehead in 2005-06 for Sunderland (29 in 37 games), so expect a big display if he is to attempt to prevent that record from going against his name.
- Everton's Dominic Calvert-Lewin - who played 12 times in all competitions for Sheffield United without scoring between April 2015 and August 2016 - has scored 16 Premier League goals this season without registering an assist; only Benni McCarthy in 2006-07 for Blackburn Rovers has scored more times without assisting a goal in a season in the competition (18 goals).
- In the top four tiers of English football, Heckingbottom is winless in his last 14 away league matches in charge (D2 L12) across three different teams - Barnsley, Leeds United and Sheffield United - with his last such win coming on New Year's Day 2018 against Sunderland as Barnsley manager in the Championship.
- Ancelotti has lost nine home league matches as Toffees boss in 27 matches at Goodison Park - he has only lost more with one club, losing 17 with AC Milan, although he managed more than five times as many home games with them than he has Everton (142).
- Sheffield United have lost 28 Premier League matches this season and defeat in this match would see them equal the record number of defeats by a team in a Premier League season: Ipswich Town in 1994-95, Sunderland in 2005-06 and Derby County in 2007-08 all lost 29 games.
- Everton have lost eight home league matches this season, only losing nine in four seasons in their entire history - 1912-13, 1947-48, 1950-51 and 1993-94.
Updated May 14, 2021