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Martinez up for 'realistic' top four battle

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Everton manager Roberto Martinez. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Everton manager Roberto Martinez. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Everton manager Roberto Martinez. Picture: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

EVERTON manager Roberto Martinez welcomed the challenge of finishing in the top four and believes his team have a realistic chance of doing so after they beat a spirited Fulham 3-1 at Craven Cottage on Sunday.

The visitors have won five Premier League games in a row to climb to within four points of fourth-placed Arsenal with a game in hand and they welcome Arsene Wenger's side to Goodison Park next Sunday.

Arsenal have faltered in recent weeks having picked up just five points from a possible 15, prompting Wenger to talk about the need to look behind them at in-form Everton.

"We admire Arsenal and we know they've been getting consistently in the Champions League for the last 18 or 19 years," Martinez said.

"That develops a real understanding of what to do in this sort of game.

"So for us the challenge against Arsenal on Sunday is phenomenal. When you speak about the league you always work hard over eight or nine months to see where you're going to be in the final eight games of the season.

"It's fair to say with the amount of points we have we've got a realistic chance to fight for that aim."

Lethargic

Everton were lethargic in the first half but the introduction of substitutes Steven Naismith, Kevin Mirallas, and Aiden McGeady made a difference after the interval.

David Stockdale's own goal was cancelled out by a fierce drive by Ashkan Dejagah before Mirallas and Naismith added late goals to seal the win and set up next weekend's game.

Everton have turned Goodison Park in to a fortress this season, having won 11 and lost one of their 15 home games.

"We embrace the challenge," Martinez added. "We really enjoy playing at Goodison. We have created an incredible relationship between the fans and the players."

Fulham were vastly improved from the side who were dismantled 5-0 by Manchester City last weekend and could count themselves unlucky not to take at least a point from the game.

However, their survival is now looking increasingly unlikely as they are five points adrift of the relative safety of 17th place with six games left.


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