Arteta targets Europe with Everton

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The Independent Football

Mikel Arteta intends to be playing on the European stage with Everton next season - and David Moyes expects him to break onto the international scene.

The Spanish playmaker proved his return to form and fitness with a clinical double as Everton ran out crushing 5-1 winners over Barclays Premier League strugglers Hull yesterday.

The 27-year-old's goals were his first since returning to action in January after an 11-month lay-off with a serious knee injury.

Victory lifted Everton to eighth in the table and got their European bid back on track after last week's defeat at Tottenham and a disappointing Europa League exit to Sporting Lisbon.

"I think we played some terrific football," said Arteta. "We wanted to get it back after both defeats last week and we got it back and scored a few, so we're delighted.

"We have to win every game at home now, you want a chance to get in Europe next year.

"We have 10 games to go and we are in the mix now."

Arteta revelled in the space given to him by Hull at Goodison Park, finding the net twice in the first half either side of a stunning Tom Cairney equaliser.

"I am delighted," Arteta said. "I have been out a long time and I was pleased to score.

"I had more freedom to go forward because we were playing Johnny (Heitinga) behind me.

"The manager wanted me to go forward and play closer to the strikers and have more influence in attack."

Arteta has never played for Spain, the reigning European champions, and his injury problems look to have scuppered his chances of breaking into the side before this year's World Cup.

Fans in the past have suggested he should declare an allegiance for England but Everton boss Moyes believes a call-up for his native country should only be a matter of time.

Moyes said: "If Mikel hadn't been injured last year he would certainly have been a consideration because he had been one of the better midfield players in the Premier League.

"But it gives you an indication how strong Spain are.

"Mikel will need to wait now until after this competition and then hope, if he can play well for Everton, he have might have a chance of getting recognised for some of the European Championship games after that."

Arteta's brilliance early in the game spared the blushes of his team-mate Ayegbeni Yakubu, who missed a penalty and put a sitter against the post.

The Nigerian also fired over when well placed after the break but ultimately it mattered little as Everton ran out convincing winners.

Richard Garcia headed an Arteta cross into his own net and substitutes Landon Donovan and Jack Rodwell completed the rout late on.

With Victor Anichebe having a goal disallowed and several other chances being passed up, it was a demoralising afternoon for relegation-threatened Hull.

After taking four points off Chelsea and Manchester City last month, the Tigers have now lost three in succession and remain in the drop zone.

Manager Phil Brown was downcast after the game but promised to pick up spirits before another testing game at the KC Stadium on Saturday.

Brown said: "It's now our job to make sure it doesn't dent confidence sufficiently before the Arsenal game.

"I still say we are better prepared and better equipped to stay in the Premier League because of last year's exploits and I will believe that until the last game."

Hull at least welcomed back Jimmy Bullard after a three-month absence, although the club's £5million record signing made a limited impact.

Brown added: "He played 60 minutes, he got through it. He was in a very combative midfield.

"We had to make one or two changes tactically in the first half but really our three in midfield didn't get to grips with their three in midfield.

"Consequently, they played better football than we did."