The Merseyside outfit beat Southampton 1-0 at Goodison Park on Monday night thanks to Richarlison’s ninth-minute strike to move on to 43 points from 25 games and end a run of three straight losses at home.
They have played one less than Liverpool and Chelsea, with the Reds – who Everton beat at Anfield for the first time since 1999 last month – only ahead on goal difference.
Everton’s victory against the Saints was their 13th of the season, one more than they managed in the whole of the 2019-20 campaign when three-time Champions League-winning manager Ancelotti came in midway through the campaign.
Ancelotti’s charges return to action against West Brom on Thursday knowing they can at least temporarily leapfrog West Ham and go into fourth, with the Hammers two points ahead having played one match more.
Winning their extra game would also put Everton just four points off second-placed Manchester United as the Toffees chase only a second top-four finish of the Premier League era, having come fourth in 2004-05. They have not finished higher since the 1986-87 title-winning season.
But Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher, a boyhood Evertonian, reckons his former club and Chelsea should genuinely fear Ancelotti and co. although he believes those two have superior first-team squads.
“Are Everton good enough? I think they may just fall short,” Carragher predicted on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football after the win over Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side.
“I think the manager that they’ve got in Ancelotti, it’s more [about] him, if I’m thinking of Everton getting into the top four.
“I think the squad of players is just short of some of the other sides, you think of Liverpool and Chelsea.
“But in terms of the manager they’ve got, you look at his record, how much of an impact he had on the derby game and how much an impact he’s had at Everton.
“I think with the last couple of wins, that’s pushed his win percentage up to over 50 per cent. No Everton manager has been close to that since Howard Kendall’s first spell and that’s Everton’s best ever manager, that shows the job that Ancelotti has been doing since he’s come in.
“If Everton are to get into the top four I think a lot of it will be done to Ancelotti. I think other clubs fighting for it have maybe got better squads or elevens but with that man in charge, anything’s possible.
Ancelotti, when asked about challenging for the Champions League by Sky Sports after winning against Southampton, said: “To fight for the European places we needed and we need to improve the home run, that was not good.
“I think that this performance and this victory can help us to have a better run at home.
“It will be a dream to be in the top four at the end of the season, it’s a dream.
“We win Thursday and we can be in the top four but the season is long. We have to stay on our goal, that is to play in Europe next season.”
Everton’s last 12 Premier League fixtures
West Brom (A)
Crystal Palace (H)
Aston Villa (H)
West Ham (A)
Sheffield United (H)
Manchester City (A)