Leighton Baines says Everton are 'perfectly comfortable being underdogs' after win over Arsenal

Champions League qualification is in the Toffees' hands

Defender Leighton Baines believes Everton will embrace the growing expectation surrounding the club and lay down a significant marker in their history.

A comprehensive 3-0 victory over Arsenal on Sunday took them to within a point of the fourth-placed Gunners with a match in hand and significantly raised their prospects of qualifying for the Champions League for only the second time.

Having already beaten Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal this season, Everton's position in the hierarchy is moving to a place where regular victories over the Premier League's so-called big sides are no longer classed as a surprise.

"It is a big win," said Baines.

"We knew that if we hadn't won it was going to be a tough uphill battle to finish higher in the league but we have now worked ourselves into a position where it is in our own hands with the game in hand.

"You could see from the performance and effort level how much we wanted to win.

"It is one of the best performances because of the commitment and desire to win, combining that with the quality we showed.

"Having got the third goal we controlled periods of the game and kept a clean sheet, which against a team like Arsenal was a notable effort.

"It showed we had all aspects of the game: that we could show some quality in our attacking play, get some goals, we could dig in and fight when we needed to and we showed we are capable of doing all of those things to win a game.

"We are perfectly comfortable being underdogs or having the expectation - it is probably nice to have that little bit of expectation to drive us on.

"We are aware of the task in hand and we have some tough games to play but they are here at Goodison where our form has been exceptional and we will have confidence going into those games.

"We have done well against a lot of the big sides. We have done well against Arsenal in the league, done well at United and played well at Goodison against Chelsea and Tottenham so we have held our own in that group against what you consider the top sides.

"We have a few games left to try to push on and the fact we are in this position is great for us."

 

Entry into Europe's elite would be a major step for Everton both on and off the field as in addition to the financial rewards it brings it also elevates the club to a new level in terms of potential transfer targets.

But the players have to remain focused as the Toffees will have to extend their club record-equalling run of six successive league wins much further to gatecrash the top four.

"We have a game in hand (at home to Crystal Palace) coming up and until we get to that point where we have played the same amount of games and have worked ourselves above Arsenal then it probably still feels like we are playing catch-up," added Baines.

"It is hard because you don't want to get ahead of yourself and start thinking about the Champions League too much but we all know what it means to any club, particularly one who hasn't been competing in those circles for a long time.

"It would mean great things but we don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves at this point.

"You look at the top four and it changes. Liverpool have worked themselves into that bracket and United are not quite there at the moment but they will come back stronger.

"We will try to work our way in among that pack if we can but it has always been difficult because we haven't always had the funds to go and spend but if we could get into a competition like the Champions League then it would help in that aspect.

"It raises the bar a little bit and makes the club more appealing to potential signings and gives the manager, the chairman and the board a little more scope financially to push themselves in the market more.

"There are a lot of things that qualifying for a competition like that can do but there is still a lot of work to be done for us to get there."

PA

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?