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Toffees boss impressed with champs' squad depth

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has been impressed with the way Manchester City have coped without some of their biggest stars while his side have been crippled by a long injury list.

Strikers Sergio Aguero, scorer of 19 goals in 23 matches, and Edin Dzeko have not played for over a month, during which time City have won seven and drawn one.

Captain Vincent Kompany has been missing for all but one of the matches in that run, but City have still put together a sequence which has seen them draw level with Chelsea at the top of the table.

The clubs' budgets are vastly different, of course, but by contrast Everton have won just once in 10 games with the likes of goalkeeper Tim Howard, defenders Sylvain Distin, Tony Hibbert, Leighton Baines, John Stones, midfielders Steven Pienaar, Darron Gibson, James McCarthy and Leon Osman all missing for some or all of that spell.

Those absences, particularly at the back, have contributed to Everton having a defensive record which is beaten only by QPR in terms of goals conceded.

"Injuries always play a part. I don't think it helps when you have to change things around, especially in certain positions," Martinez said, ahead of today's visit of the defending champions.

"You want to have a consistent back line with the same understanding and partnerships, and that has cost us.

"There are certain players you can replace better than others and it is not ideal when you cannot find solutions.

"But in the same way it has been a good period to find out about our characters and I still feel this squad is strong enough to be very successful.

"It is the time to get a couple of positive results and see how far we can go this season because I do feel the group is stronger than ever and more focused than even at the start of the season.

"Manchester City are playing with real swagger and arrogance and they don't need many chances to punish you. I have been very impressed in the way they have coped with big players missing."