Arsenal v Everton: Steven Naismith insists Everton have nothing to fear in FA Cup tie labelled a 'massive game'

 

Forward Steven Naismith believes Everton have no reason to fear Arsenal as they have proved this season they are a match for the big teams.

Roberto Martinez's side head to the Emirates Stadium for an FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday which could have a major bearing on the remainder of their season.

Having dropped nine points off the pace - discounting fourth-placed Manchester City's two matches in hand - in the race for Champions League football the FA Cup represents their best chance of success even if European football remains a possibility.

Having gone to the Emirates in December and earned a creditable 1-1 draw Naismith thinks the trip south can be made with confidence even if their away record in terms of results against their rivals is mixed.

Everton suffered their first league defeat at Manchester City in October and have lost at Anfield and, less deservedly, at Tottenham but did register an historic victory at Manchester United four days before their draw at the Emirates.

"It is a massive game," said Scotland international Naismith.

"You need to beat the big teams if you want to get to finals and win trophies so we are going to work hard.

"It is probably not ideal for the manager that everyone has been away with internationals but it is the same for everyone.

"We need to come back refreshed and ready and put on a performance like we have done not only at Arsenal before but at a lot of the big teams in away games."

 

Arsenal had an unexpected defeat at Stoke last weekend which dealt a blow to their title hopes, but Martinez does not think that will have much bearing on Saturday's encounter.

"There is never a good or bad time to face a top team. We admire Arsenal immensely for the team they are," he said.

"They had a disappointing result at the weekend but that does not change anything.

"They can perform without looking at what happened in the previous game.

"They are as good as anyone when they get on the ball and have free movement.

"But if you want to be winning a competition like the FA Cup you have to find a way of being effective against a team like Arsenal.

"We need to replicate the level of performance we had at the Emirates earlier in the season.

"I thought first half we played really well but when you are dominant you need to reflect that in the scoreline and that is where we need to improve."

Everton should be aided in that respect with the return of striker Romelu Lukaku, who came off the bench after a month out injured to score the winner at home to West Ham last weekend.

The future of the on-loan Chelsea forward has still to be decided with Martinez preferring to focus on finishing this campaign strongly rather than looking too far into the future - especially as they do not yet know whether they will be involved in Europe.

"We are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and the last thing you want to be talking about is the preparations for next season.

"Facing a domestic competition compared to playing in Europe is a completely different approach but it would be foolish for us to be talking about that opportunity.

"We want to finish as high as we can and whatever happens at the end of the season we will prepare for what comes next."

PA

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