Everton vs Arsenal: Roberto Martinez excited to test his team against Arsenal

The sides meet in the late game on Saturday afternoon

Everton boss Roberto Martinez expects his summer's work to be put to the test as Arsenal visit Goodison Park this weekend.

Martinez's side, who finished fifth in the Barclays Premier League last season, opened their new campaign with a 2-2 draw at Leicester last weekend.

Although frustrated to be held to a point, Martinez was pleased with many aspects of the performance and is encouraged for the year ahead.

But he accepts that FA Cup winners Arsenal, who are hoping to mount a stronger title challenge this season, will provide a greater yardstick for his side's position.

The intensity will not drop next week either, with Chelsea travelling to the blue half of Merseyside.

Martinez said: "You need to face this sort of opposition.

"What we saw last weekend is that we are really fluid in possession. The thing we need to change is that mentality to keep going forward and keep scoring goals. We didn't get that cushion that could have given us three points.

"But if you look at the positives of the first half - I am really excited looking at this game.

"It is true that until you play against sides like Arsenal and Chelsea you don't have the answers on the pitch.

"As a team we are ready. I feel pre-season was perfect, a real success.

"Now we have to make sure we are as strong a team as we can be. You can only see that when you face opposition like we are going to face at the weekend."

 

With a month of last season remaining, Everton sat above Arsenal in fourth place but they faltered and eventually finished seven points behind the Gunners.

This term they hope to sustain a longer challenge for a Champions League spot but Martinez expects the competition to be tighter.

He said: "The league is going to be a lot more open than people think.

"I see five teams with equal chances of winning the title and I think it is going to go come down to small margins. I expect this competition to be the tightest we have ever seen."

Arsenal were involved in midweek action having travelled to Turkey for a Champions League play-off against Besiktas.

Martinez does not think that will affect the Gunners negatively and, having also played in the Community Shield, they may even boast greater match-fitness.

He said: "They have got a big enough squad and the mentality to cope.

"It can be a positive as you can get rid of that rustiness and into a competitive frame of mind straight away.

"Clearly when you are involved in such an important game like in Turkey you see them reaching full levels very quickly and that could be a negative for us.

"It is going to rely heavily on how well we can play."

PA

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