Belfast Telegraph

Everton chief Martinez says race for fourth is on a knife-edge

Everton boss Roberto Martinez predicted the race for the fourth Champions League place will go down to the wire following yesterday's 3-1 victory at Fulham.

The Toffees know that if they win all of their remaining seven matches – starting with next Sunday's clash against Arsenal at Goodison Park – they will finish in fourth.

A triumphant sequence spanning five successive league games has transformed them into genuine contenders for Europe, but Martinez insisted the competition is fierce.

"Being in this position gives us an understanding of what a good season we've had," Martinez said.

"With the points we have, we have a realistic chance.

"I'm not saying we're going to get that because we admire Arsenal because they get in the Champions League consistently.

"They have developed a real understanding (of) what to do in these games, so that makes Sunday a phenomenal challenge.

"It will probably go down to the last game of the season."

Strikes from substitutes Kevin Mirallas and Steven Naismith and an own goal by David Stockdale consolidated fifth place for Everton, who are four points adrift of Arsenal with one game in hand.

But it was Fulham who dominated the first half and they even fired an equaliser through Ashkan Dejagah, only for the arrival of substitutes Aiden McGeady, Mirallas and Naismith.

Martinez also confirmed that Ross Barkley was substituted at half-time with a calf injury, but is expected to be fit to face Arsenal.

Belfast Telegraph

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