Belfast Telegraph

Martinez buoyed by recent displays

Everton boss Roberto Martinez feels there are "many good signs" coming from his team at the moment but admits he wants to see more from them on the goalscoring front.

The Toffees have bounced back from a run of four straight Barclays Premier League defeats by going unbeaten in the four top-flight fixtures that have followed - a sequence that has seen them keep clean sheets in each of their last three games.

They certainly looked defensively solid in the Merseyside derby against Liverpool at Goodison Park on Saturday, although it was notable that the hosts registered their first and only shot on target in the 87th minute of a game that finished 0-0.

The other unbeaten matches have been a 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, 0-0 home draw with West Brom and 1-1 draw at Manchester City.

And ahead of Wednesday's trip to leaders Chelsea, Martinez said: "I thought Saturday's game, from a tactical point of view, was phenomenal, although I don't think it was the type of game that as a neutral you would enjoy.

"Sometimes shots on target don't describe how well you get into the final third - I thought early on if we had made a more composed decision, we would have got into some great positions to score, and I thought we finished really strong.

"I felt the performance was full of maturity and that it is something we can build on.

"But it is also about winning games.

"We are starting to get back to enjoying our football and we need to get that confidence back in front of goal.

"We are just starting to accumulate many good signs that allow me to be extremely positive between now and the end of the season."

It is interesting that 12th-placed Everton should be approaching this game against Chelsea looking sound at the back but somewhat struggling to hit the back of the net, given the reverse fixture at Goodison Park earlier this season ended 6-3 to the Londoners.

For various reasons, Wednesday's encounter appears a daunting assignment for the Toffees - Chelsea have lost only three times this season and Everton's last league victory at Stamford Bridge came in 1994.

But the title-chasers will be without their top-scorer Diego Costa through suspension, while Everton's, ex-Chelsea man Romelu Lukaku, will no doubt be keen to add to his personal record of three goals in his last six games in all competitions.

And Martinez has stressed his men will very much be going for the win.

"Going to Chelsea, I think you need to be outstanding in everything you do," the Spaniard said.

"We have to defend well, stop them from playing and having a threat, we have to get on the ball and control the game, we can't give them the ball cheaply, and we have to find a way to break them down and score goals.

"They are really dangerous, but we are going there with a clear mentality of wanting to be ourselves and build on what we have produced in the last three performances, and our intention is to try to win."

Martinez feels it is "no coincidence" Everton have found their form defensively with the fit-again John Stones having returned to the team in the last few weeks to play at centre-back alongside his captain and fellow England international Phil Jagielka.

The manager has also had praise for goalkeeper Joel Robles with regard to his efforts in keeping the three successive clean sheets, although he is set to be dropped on Wednesday.

Tim Howard has recovered from the calf injury that has kept him out since Boxing Day, and Martinez said of the United States shot-stopper: "Whenever Tim is fit, he is our number one."

Full-back Leighton Baines, not involved on Saturday because of a knee complaint, will be assessed ahead of the Chelsea match, as will midfielder James McCarthy, who was back in the side at the weekend after a period sidelined by a hamstring problem.

Aiden McGeady is a definite absentee due to the knee injury that prevented him from being involved against Liverpool, and Tony Hibbert (unspecified), Leon Osman (foot) and Steven Pienaar (knee) also remain unavailable.

Christian Atsu, the winger on loan from Chelsea who has been playing at the African Nations Cup with Ghana, is not eligible to face his parent club and will join up with Everton again on Friday.


From Belfast Telegraph