Everton manager Frank Lampard has played down claims that his side’s clash with Crystal Palace on Thursday is “all or nothing” in their bid to secure Premier League safety.
The Toffees missed the chance to guarantee safety on Sunday as they let slip a 2-1 lead at home to Brentford. That 3-2 setback, which was not helped by two red cards, keeps Lampard and Co sweating on their safety. They now face two critical matches to get over the line.
First up is a clash with Palace at Goodison Park on Thursday. Everton go into the game with a one-point buffer to 17th-placed Leeds. They are also two points clear of Burnley in 18th, with the Clarets facing Aston Villa on the same night.
With a tricky trip to Arsenal on the final day, many suggest Everton will have to beat Palace to ensure safety. However, Lampard is looking to take the heat out of the situation and is imploring his players to relax.
“If you approach it as ‘all or nothing’ and then we don’t get the right result, do you then try to rekindle that you have a game to come?” he said.
“It is the reality. We have to approach it as a game at Goodison, a game against a really good opponent, and a game we all understand what it is.
“We have two games left to probably get two points with the goal difference situation with Leeds (Everton are 18 better off).
“As a club, we understand the situation, understand what we need and what we want. And we have to prepare as well as we can to get it.
“But we are not going to write off a game against Arsenal. It’s a game to go and contend and try and get a result no matter what happens on Thursday.”
Frank Lampard addresses Everton red card record
Everton have now received five red cards in 11 matches after their double dismissal against Brentford. That’s as many dismissals as they have collected wins under Lampard.
However, the Toffees boss understands wants his players to show better control and cut out the mistakes.
“We have got red cards this year and I am not mad on that fact because they obviously make games hard. But at the same time a lot of them have been footballing mistakes. Of course we have to try to manage against that,” he added.
“I think they have to understand the occasion, they have to tap into that.
“It is not the fifth game of the season where you are trying to get yourself going. It is a game which is really critical.
“We have to use the fact there is a pressure on us in a good way and play with control on top of that. That is the balance.”
On their destiny still being in their own hands, Frank Lampard added: “That is the nice thing. That’s a good thing. If you had offered that to us a few weeks ago we probably would have taken it.
“But it is just words at the moment. It is nice that it is in our hands and if we can get the right performance, things go our way, tap into the atmosphere, we know we have an opportunity to get where we want to be.”
Regardless of safety, one man who appears to have his heart set on a move away is Richarlison. And recent reports claims two big-name European suitors are considering moves for the Brazilian forward.