Everton are keeping their faith till the bitter end

Martinez confident his squad can edge out Arsenal in last three games of the season in hunt to qualify for coveted Champions League

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 April, 2014, 11:01pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 April, 2014, 11:01pm


Roberto Martinez believes Everton will overhaul Arsenal in the race to qualify for the Champions League if they win their last three matches.

Martinez's fifth-placed team trail fourth-placed Arsenal by a point after their bid to finish in the top four fell out of their own hands with last week's 3-2 defeat at Crystal Palace.

A 2-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday in the following match revived Everton's belief that they can still qualify for Europe's elite club competition.

It doesn't matter who you are playing against or who you are fighting against to get into that fourth spot - it's always the points tally that matters
Roberto Martinez

Now Everton head to Southampton today before hosting Manchester City and finish the Premier League season at Hull.

The Gunners end their campaign with matches against Newcastle, West Brom and Norwich, making them favourites to win the qualification battle.

But Martinez remains confident three more victories will be enough to overtake Arsene Wenger's team.

"Looking at the last 15 years or so, fourth place is well below 76 points," Martinez said.

"There has only been one season where you have needed 76 points for that and on average it's always been a lot less points.

"You don't go far wrong when you look at the points tally. We are well aware anything around 72 to 75 points is Champions League football, so we are desperate to try to make sure we get that.

"It doesn't matter who you are playing against or who you are fighting against to get into that fourth spot - it's always the points tally that matters.

"I will go as far to say if you get nine points and you don't get into the Champions League, you can be proud and very happy any way. That's the target we are giving ourselves - how many points we can get from now until the end of the season.

"We have to make sure that we are fresh. We have recovered and look at every game as a unique opportunity to show what we can do."

Southampton have little to play for except to hold on to eighth place, which would equal their previous best Premier League finish, achieved in 2003 when Gordon Strachan was boss.

Head coach Mauricio Pochettino has also had to deal with speculation about his future as it has been suggested that Tottenham would be keen to employ him once they dispense with the services of Tim Sherwood.

Pochettino could be persuaded to stay should significant transfer funds be made available to him in the summer, with the former Argentina defender making it clear how difficult it is to work with one of the smaller squads in the Premier League.

"It's clear, as I said throughout the entire season, that we have a small squad," he said. "We don't have a lot of players and it's also true that, towards the end of the season, we're suffering many injuries."

Elsewhere, all eyes will be on the Old Trafford dugout today and the Chelsea teamsheet tomorrow as Manchester United begin life after David Moyes, while Liverpool aim to move within touching distance of the Premier League title.

Ryan Giggs, assisted by three fellow members of United's famed "Class of 92", will be in temporary charge of the troubled giants when struggling Norwich visit Manchester for the first match following Moyes' sacking.

Then at Anfield tomorrow, leaders Liverpool will wait with bated breath to see if Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho carries out his threat to field a weakened team as the Reds look to move a giant step closer to winning the title for the first time since 1990.

Arsenal host Newcastle on Monday looking to maintain the advantage in Champions League qualifying.