Frank Lampard has told Everton to avoid thinking their fight for Premier League survival boils down to an “all-or-nothing” encounter at home to Crystal Palace on Thursday.
The Toffees realistically need two points from their last two matches to stay in the English top-flight but their final game is at fifth-placed Arsenal on Sunday – a tricky fixture for a side with a terrible away record this season.
Everton manager Lampard said it would be unwise for his players to pin all their hopes on their final home game of the season at Goodison Park in case they still have to head to the Emirates needing points to avoid relegation.
“If you approach it as ‘all or nothing’ and then we don’t get the right result, do you then try to rekindle that when 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).”
Lampard added Everton would not “write off a game against Arsenal” and would fight for a result regardless of what happened on Thursday.
Norwich and Watford have already been relegated from the Premier League and either Leeds, Everton or Burnley – currently third from bottom – will join them.
Everton had two players sent off in Sunday’s defeat by Brentford, the latest in a series of dismissals, but former Chelsea and England midfielder Lampard said his players were handling the pressure of a relegation scrap.
“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 – but of course, we have to try to manage against that,” he added.
Lampard wants his players to harness the emotion of Goodison again while still understanding the bigger picture.
“I think they have to understand the occasion, they have to tap into that,” he said. “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 pressure on us in a good way and play with control on top of that, that is the balance.”