Chelsea v Everton: Roberto Martinez expects to get 'clear idea' of Everton's Champions League chances this weekend
The Everton manager says game at Stamford Bridge will provide barometer of progress
Friday 21 February 2014
Roberto Martinez expects Saturday's trip to face Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to provide a barometer for Everton's top-four hopes.
Martinez views the Toffees as in a four-way battle with Liverpool, Tottenham and Manchester United for fourth place and a spot in next year's Champions League.
Everton have a lot of catching up to do given they are eight points behind their city rivals and five adrift of Tottenham, although they do have a game in hand on both.
Defeat by Spurs in their last Premier League match was particularly costly, with Martinez's side dominating most of the match but losing out to an Emmanuel Adebayor goal.
The Spaniard wants Everton to learn from that against Chelsea, who top the table and have dropped just four points at home all season.
Martinez said: "The game we have at the weekend is going to tell us a lot.
"It's important that as a team we keep working, we keep developing and keep getting stronger, but only when you get in a match against teams that are competing in the Champions League do you get a clear idea how far away you are.
"Stamford Bridge is one of the hardest places to go and get three points, and I think it's going to be a terrific measurement for ourselves after the disappointment that we had at White Hart Lane.
"It's something we need to correct, to use that experience that when you are the better side, you need to win the football game.
"Chelsea have got terrific home form with this manager, and not just this season. It's an incredible challenge but probably internally we need that."
Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has continually downplayed his team's chances of winning the Premier League this season, leading Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger to accuse him of a fear of failure.
Martinez said: "When you're a manager you know where you are in terms of your plan, so obviously a manager will always give you a view from that position.
"From the outside clearly Chelsea look a team that are capable of competing for the title in the same way that I can see Arsenal and Manchester City with strong arguments to win this title.
"I always say football isn't about managers, it's about the players and making sure that as a team you can develop and perform well. We're looking forward to the game."
Although Martinez sees Saturday's clash as a key game, he does not think it will determine whether they make the top four or not.
The Spaniard said: "We're going to approach every game in the same manner.
"We want to win every game that we go into and if at the end of the season we have a points tally that grants us a top-four position, we'll welcome that.
"We need to aim high. We've got 13 games and it's a specific league now within the campaign. Clearly the margins are very small.
"The points difference between being in the top four now is still an achievable aim for the teams in fifth, sixth and seventh so we're really going to give everything we've got."
Injuries have also become much less of a problem for Everton, with only long-term absentees Bryan Oviedo, Arouna Kone and Darron Gibson now out of the picture.
Top scorer Romelu Lukaku has recovered from an ankle problem but is ineligible against his parent club on Saturday.
Forward Steven Naismith has been given the all-clear after taking a bang to the head in last weekend's FA Cup win over Swansea while Antolin Alcaraz, who has played only four times this season, is back in contention for a place in the squad.
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