sport news Leicester and Everton are fighting for the top four, but which is best equipped ...

Who would have thought this fixture would be described as a 'top four clash' at the beginning of the season? 

On Wednesday night Carlo Ancelotti will lead his side against Brendan Rodgers' Foxes in the battle of the surprise packages at Goodison Park. It's been some time since the Toffees were scrapping it out for a Champions League spot but the veteran Italian has turned them into real contenders. 

It promises to be an enticing affair with both sides coming off some great form and the match should tell us a lot about who has the mettle to push for a spot in the top four and possibly even the title. 

Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti will face off against Leicester on Wednesday

Brendan Rogders' side are surprise title challengers but have a tough task against the in-form Toffees

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Everton boss Ancelotti (L) will lock horns with Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers (R) on Wednesday in a clash that could prove crucial in the top four race

Everton, who have won four of their last five, have two games in hand over current leaders United, so another three points here would be crucial and could see them slowly working their way towards the summit.

Leicester have won their last three - including a 2-0 success over struggling Chelsea - which took them briefly top of the table. They've earned a few other scalps this season, including over Arsenal and Spurs - but this should be one of their toughest games yet.

Sportsmail takes a look at both sides and analyses their strengths and what separates them - assessing which team has the better chance of gatecrashing the top four this season. 

GOALKEEPER

Everton: Jordan Pickford

Not everyone's cup of tea in between the sticks and has been guilty of some glaring errors this season - even while Toffees have been in inspired form. He's been backed by Ancelotti, who continues to pick him, while he still looks like Gareth Southgate's choice as England No 1.

But we've seen a much more polished Pickford in recent games. He's kept two clean sheets in his last five games - but only has three overall, with the first coming against Spurs on the opening day of the season. 

He's made 42 saves in this campaign and let in 19 to ensure Everton remain one of the tightest defences in the division - with just one mistake leading to a goal.

Jordan Pickford has looked shaky for Everton in the last year but has improved recently

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Jordan Pickford has looked shaky for Everton in the last year but has improved recently 

Leicester: Kasper Schmeichel

Arguably one of the most consistent keepers in the Premier League in recent seasons - even if he's not quite as spectacular as his father Peter was for .  

Schmeichel, a Premier League winner with the Foxes in 2016, has helped them keep seven clean sheets this season - including one in each of his last two games. 

It's surprising that no top side has made a move for the Dane, but the club have shown that they are going places and the 34-year-old has been key to that. He's made 56 saves in 2020-21 with 21 goals conceded and 0 errors leading to a goal.

VERDICT: Schmeichel looks to be a slight level above Pickford and is the most reliable choice.

Kasper Schmeichel is a reliable option for Rodgers and has been crucial to their success

Kasper Schmeichel is a reliable option for Rodgers and has been crucial to their success

DEFENCE

Everton have looked weak at the back in recent seasons but it's an area they look much stronger in now. Michael Keane has put in some improved displays this season and looks solid alongside Colombian Yerry Mina, while Mason Holgate has made the right back berth his own of late.

Ben Godfrey is only in his first season at Goodison Park since the 23-year-old joined from Norwich, but already has 10 starts at left back. Everton have shipped just 21 goals, which ranks as the fifth-best defence in the division, joint with Leicester and Southampton. 

But their back-line has looked vulnerable at times and they have only managed to keep three clean sheets - an area for improvement.

Michael Keane has formed a solid partnership alongside Yerry Mina at the back for Everton

Michael Keane has formed a solid partnership alongside Yerry Mina at the back for Everton 

Leicester made a shrewd signing in Wesley Fofana from St Etienne this summer and he looks particularly strong at the back alongside Jonny Evans, the pair having kept seven clean sheets together. 

At full-back they have a new face in Timothy Castagne, who looks like another smart signing, and youngster James Justin - who is looking like he could even nail down the left back position for England at some point in the future.

Rodgers wants his teams to play fluidly in attack but deserves credit for keeping his back-line solid at the same time, and the addition of Fofana has really helped in ensuring the defence is organised. 

VERDICT: There isn't too much separating the defence but Leicester look a bit more solid at the back and edge this one on superior clean sheets. 

Leicester have managed to stay compact at the back thanks to new signing Wesley Fofana (R)

Leicester have managed to stay compact at the back thanks to new signing Wesley Fofana (R)

MIDFIELD

Arguably one of the best buys in the Premier League last summer was James Rodriguez, who turned out to be a free transfer for Everton, and the Colombian has shown he is far from past his best with a string of impressive showings. 

He has made 11 starts, with three goals and three assists, and always carries a threat. Ancelotti can also call upon Icelandic playmaker Gylfi Sigurdsson, who hasn't been as dangerous in the last couple of seasons but has started to come alive in the last month. With two talented attacking midfielders to choose from, it's a good problem for the Italian boss to have. 

In centre midfield the combative Allan has looked steely since his arrival from Napoli and has added grit to the middle of the park, while Abdoulaye Doucoure has looked menacing too. Everton also have the versatile Lucas Digne - usually a left back but has been transformed into a make-shift left-winger at points this season - chipping in with five assists. 

Everton have top talent in midfield, including James Rodriguez (L) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (R)

Everton have top talent in midfield, including James Rodriguez (L) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (R)

The key man in the Leicester midfield is without a doubt James Maddison - who is enjoying a

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