(Reuters) – Everton manager Marco Silva has dismissed claims that his side is showing signs of inconsistency towards the end of the season as they look to finish seventh and potentially qualify for the Europa League.
Everton have won four of their last five games — which included wins over top six sides Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United — but lost 2-0 at already-relegated Fulham to drop to ninth in the standings.
“For me, when we lose one game away or at home it can happen,” Silva told reporters ahead of Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace. “It’s not a moment to talk about inconsistency in our team.
“It can happen even though I always prepare the team to win. All of you expected after our three wins in a row to go there (to Fulham) and win easily. I told you it would be a difficult match, and we prepared our players in that way.
“They were better than us. We didn’t perform the way I wanted, but it’s not a matter of inconsistency because if you look at our last six games, our form is really good.”
Finishing seventh could allow Everton to play in the Europa League qualifying rounds if Manchester City, who have already qualified for the Champions League, beat Watford in the FA Cup.
Everton are two points behind seventh-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers and a point behind eighth-placed Watford, with one or both sides assured of dropping points when they face each other on Saturday.
“First, we have to keep fighting. We aren’t in seventh, it’s not the most important thing in this moment,” Silva added.
“It will be tight. We are in competition (for seventh) with clubs having really good seasons too. We have to keep doing the best we can and in the end we will see what position we end up in the table.”
However, Silva could be without his leading goal scorer Richarlison at Palace. The Brazilian will face a late fitness test on Friday while forward Theo Walcott is yet to recover from an illness.
“Richarlison we have big doubts if he will be able to play,” Silva said. “He tried yesterday to work with us.
“He felt different but let’s see how he is able to react tomorrow. Today he tried again, but he will be a major doubt for us.”
(Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru, editing by Pritha Sarkar)