Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti believes getting into the top four this week could be psychologically important for his players.
The 1-0 win over Southampton, courtesy of Richarlison’s third league goal in as many games inside the first 10 minutes, moved his side within two points of fourth-placed West Ham with a match in hand.
They could go move above the Hammers on Thursday with a win at struggling West Brom, with rivals Liverpool hosting Chelsea at Anfield later in the evening.
“I think we have a great opportunity for one day, two days, three days, to be in the top four and we would like to touch the position,” said Ancelotti.
“We have to put all our thoughts for the game on Thursday to try to be there. I don’t know how long (but) it is how we feel when we are there.
“I think it is an opportunity to be there, we can win and be in the top four.
“I think there will be a big fight until the end of the season, until the last game and we have to be pleased we can fight for that position – but this doesn’t change our target and that is to be in Europe next season.”
Richarlison has now scored five goals in as many games in all competitions after being told by Ancelotti he had to work harder.
His manager does not believe his current run should be seen as anything special though.
“He has answered my call, this is true,” he added.
“What can I say, Richarlison is not doing something extraordinary, in my opinion he is doing his job.
“He is a player with this kind of quality. I hope and I am sure he is going to continue.”
Conversely Southampton have a problem up front, having scored five goals in nine matches and have taken just one point since beating Liverpool in mid-January.
“We have not the best decisions in the final third,” said boss Ralph Hasenhuttl.
“Ingsy (Danny Ings) is still a bit short of freshness and we miss his goals definitely. He is the guy who gives us the lead.
“The first goal chance for them was a goal: long ball, losing the header against (Dominic) Calvert-Lewin and then Richarlison with a deep run which is hard to defend.
“For chances that was it for Everton and we had a few in the second half but at the moment we don’t find the back of the net.
“You saw a team fighting in the second half but we are missing the final punch in the final third.
“When you don’t score and concede one goal you lose games. This is the run we are on and we have to do something to stop it.”