Moyes makes rallying call for excellence as Everton fix eyes on Reds
Everton's resurgence as a top-half-of-the-table team with designs on European qualification will instil confidence at the outset of a week that culminates in an Anfield confrontation against Liverpool.
An unbeaten Premier League run has stretched to nine games and expectations will be high as Everton go into Saturday's confrontation as clearly the derby form team.
However, manager David Moyes has no fears that those expectations will go unchecked following a third successive victory at the DW Stadium that has left Everton ninth, although still nine points adrift of their Merseyside rivals.
"The players know I am looking for excellence in performance as well as results and I am striving for that in all games. They set the standards and they are not surprising me," said Moyes.
"So far as the run goes, it sounds good on paper, but in my head I feel a lot of ground has still to be made up. In regard to Europe, who knows?
Let's wait and see where it goes because after the start we made you can't be aiming too high too soon," he cautiously added.
A stunning headed 84th-minute goal by Tim Cahill, following Leighton Baines' corner on the left, proved sufficient to overcome a Wigan Athletic side whose wretched finishing and slack defending for the goal contributed to a defeat that leaves them heading in the opposite direction to Everton.
They have now won only once in eight games, a run that has plunged them to within two points of the relegation positions. Yet manager Roberto Martinez is not unduly concerned. "We are working to achieving the 40 points that will keep us in the Premier League and it is going to be a real test of our character," he said.
However, Martinez is aware that conceding cheap goals must be eliminated.
There needs, too, to be greater awareness in front of goal, with Jason Scotland and Hugo Rodallega guilty of missed chances. Victor Moses, signed for £2.5m from Crystal Palace yesterday, might provide some cutting edge.
Charles N'Zogbia struck the bar in injury-time to almost achieve parity and earlier was denied a penalty when tripped by John Heitinga. Everton, too, were betrayed by officialdom following an early Gary Caldwell foul on Louis Saha, while Morouane Fellaini had a good goal wiped out for offside. (©Daily Telegraph, London)
Wigan Athletic (4-5-1): Stojkovic; Boyce, Bramble, Caldwell,
Figueroa; N'Zogbia, Diame (Scharner, 58), McCarthy,
Thomas (Gomez, 88), Rodallega; Scotland (Sinclair, 80).
Substitutes not used: Koumas, Watson, Amaya, Pollitt (gk)
Everton: (4-5-1): Howard; Neville, Heitinga, Senderos,
Baines; Osman, Fellaini, Donovan (Anichebe, 75), Pienaar;
Cahill; Saha (Vaughan, 89). Substitutes not used: Nash
(gk), Bilyaletdinov, Rodwell, Coleman, Duffy
Referee: L Probert (Gloucestershire)
Booked: Everton Osman, Pienaar
Man of the match: Cahill