Everton 2 Southampton 1: Roberto Martinez warns rivals by claiming Toffees can 'improve' in 2014

The Spaniard refuses to set a target so early in the season but admits it has been an 'outstanding' effort to secure 37 points already

Everton will start 2014 in the top four of the Barclays Premier League and their manager Roberto Martinez believes there is plenty more to come from his side - but is still not making any bold predictions about where they might finish this season.

The Toffees moved up from fifth to fourth in the table after beating Southampton 2-1 at Goodison Park, swapping places with Liverpool, whose defeat at Chelsea later on Sunday afternoon ensured the two Merseyside clubs will be in those positions come the beginning of January 1.

With all teams having now played 19 of their 38 league games, Martinez's men are a point ahead of the Reds and five behind leaders Arsenal.

At the very least, Champions League qualification looks a realistic prospect for Everton, but the Spaniard remains reluctant to speculate how things will end up.

Giving his thoughts on how they are faring, Martinez said: "I think we can improve.

"(Their current tally of) 37 points is an outstanding return halfway through the season, and looking back, we have had two defeats, and probably of the (seven) draws, there have been more unfair than lucky ones.

"But I think there is room for improvement and that is the target we have from now until the end of the season.

"We have the majority of the top sides coming to Goodison and it will be a great challenge to fulfil our potential - I don't think we have done that yet."

Asked if he thought securing a top-four berth - and, thus, a route into the Champions League - was possible, he added: "You will always hear me saying it is impossible to set a target in December.

"All we are doing is taking it game by game, and we are quite happy now with where we are.

"We are just trying to get as many points as we can before we go into the final third of the competition.

"If we go into it with options to get into the top four, that is what we will look to do.

"If it is another aim, we will try to finish as strong as we can."

Seamus Coleman put Everton ahead in the ninth minute, bursting into the box and unleashing a powerful shot into the net.

Southampton substitute Gaston Ramirez equalised in the 71st when he beat Joel Robles, who was making his first Toffees Premier League start - and it appeared should have done better in his attempt to save the effort, with a strike from distance.

Three minutes later, Romelu Lukaku fired in the winner - his first goal in six games - by converting from James McCarthy's pass.

Southampton boss Mauricio Pochettino, whose side remain ninth, felt the visitors had been unfortunate to end up empty-handed.

"I thought overall it was a very good game, with both teams going forward and playing good, attacking football," Pochettino said.

"But it is a shame, because we leave with nothing and I think we deserved a lot more from this game."

PA

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
football
Life and Style
health
Voices
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
News
i100
News
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own