Ronald Koeman has challenged his Everton squad to continue pushing Arsenal and Manchester United for a place in the top six.
Should the Blues defeat West Ham United at the Olympic Stadium, they will cement at least seventh place, meaning they will be playing Europa League football next season, after Manchester United’s League Cup success opened up a further spot in the table.
However, Koeman is not prepared to settle for the Toffees’ current position, and wants his side to maintain their pursuit for a spot higher up in the Premier League.
“Seventh position means European football,” he said. “But we will take up the challenge of trying to win all of our remaining games. If you do that you have a real opportunity to finish fifth or sixth. That is the challenge for the weekend and for the week after that and so on.
“Of course a top five finish is still an incentive. It is our target; we know its really difficult and a battle between Everton, Arsenal and Manchester United. The last game of the season is Arsenal v Everton, and if we are still in the hunt, then to beat them will be really nice.”
Koeman recognises that he will face a further challenge over the summer when ensuring he has a squad that can cope with fighting on four fronts throughout 2017/18.
However, the prize of being able to take the Blues into European qualification is one that he will relish.
“Of course we know it means Thursday evenings and weekends,” he added. “But we will try and have a strong squad for next season to play in Europe and then the weekends.
“We know we have to be prepared in the number of players in order to battle in all the competitions. That’s a challenge, and I am not afraid of that because it is what everybody likes to have – football in Europe.
“I know what we like to do but we will wait to see if it is possible. We did a session this morning with 17 outfield players, whereas most of the teams have 24, 25 players.
“I am not a manager to have that amount of players because it is difficult to keep the spirit in all the players without any possibility to start. It is better to use young players.”