Frank Lampard insisted that “there is a long way to go” in the Premier League relegation battle, but that his Everton side are doing all they can to avoid the drop.
The Toffees have found themselves firmly in the scrap at the wrong end of the table this season following poor form. And their situation has swung for better and worse in recent games.
Heading into the final stretch of the season, their fixture list looked ominous. They go to Arsenal on the final day after playing Liverpool, Manchester United and Chelsea.
However, they have picked up wins against United and Chelsea to give their hopes of staying up a massive boost.
And the most recent of those victories – against Chelsea on Sunday – proved crucial. On Saturday, Burnley came back to beat Watford 2-1 to move into 16th, five points clear of the Toffees in 18th. As such, Everton closed the gap back to two, with Leeds United in 17th behind Burnley on goal difference alone.
Indeed, Leeds are now firmly back in the mix to go down following their 4-0 defeat to Manchester City.
Speaking in his post-match press conference, Lampard revealed that he inspired Everton’s win over Chelsea by “briefly” mentioning Burnley’s 2-1 win.
“I think it was an important moment to talk about the reality of the situation,” the manager said. “You can keep telling the players to believe. Then there are other times when the demands are this.
“To be good lads is not enough to stay in this league. It is clear what the table looks like. My feeling was we needed an extra boost, an extra bit of attention, and to be fair the players delivered that.
“I mentioned it [the Burnley result] briefly to the players this morning because I wanted to make sure it wasn’t a fear or a lack of hope with the points difference.”
While Everton have been pulling off shock wins, Burnley’s revival has also caught the eye. The Clarets have won three in a row and are unbeaten in four since Sean Dyche got the sack and Mike Jackson became caretaker boss.
Leeds, meanwhile, have taken points from five of their last six but still find themselves in trouble.
Lampard has Everton, Leeds, Burnley ‘feeling’
“I don’t know what is in your hands around the bottom of the table,” Lampard added.
“If it was Liverpool and Manchester City you’d think they would win every game and then in your hands is great at that point.
“But are we expecting Burnley to win every game? At the minute maybe yeah! Are we expecting Leeds to win every game? I think it is hard to say what is in our hands and that’s because we can only control certain things – and that’s when we play.
“That’s the difficult thing about yesterday, we can’t control Burnley. We can’t control Leeds. We can only control ourselves.
“Of the five games we will have to control ourselves well enough to get enough points. We don’t know what that (total) is. My feeling is there is a long way to go.”
Everton face Leicester away from home next. They then play Watford, Brentford, Crystal Palace and Arsenal before the end of the season.