Sunday 15 September 2019

Everton boss Roberto Martinez excited by lengthy run of fixtures

Roberto Martinez's Everton are ninth ahead of Saturday's clash with Aston Villa
Roberto Martinez's Everton are ninth ahead of Saturday's clash with Aston Villa

Everton boss Roberto Martinez is relishing his side tackling the "incredible block of fixtures" ahead that starts on Saturday and will go a long way towards determining how their season pans out.

The international break just concluded was the third so far in 2015-16, but the next one is not until March.

And between now and then, Martinez's men are scheduled to play 19 Barclays Premier League matches - beginning with this weekend's home clash with Aston Villa - as well as ties in the Capital One Cup and FA Cup.

Everton, who have finished fifth and then 11th in their two seasons under the Spaniard so far, are currently ninth in the table after 12 games.

And asked ahead of the Villa contest what his team could achieve this term, Martinez said: "I think that's the theme of this period - from now until the next international break, that is exactly the answer we need to find.

"Now is our time to show what we can do and how good we can be, and clearly the next 19 league games are going to give us that answer."

Martinez insists he has no targets in mind at this stage in terms of either points or final position, with his sole focus for now the visit of Villa, the league's bottom club.

"It's such an incredible block of fixtures now - a really, really important period starting with the game on Saturday," he said.

"It is a block of football where we are going to be trying to forge our best possible (performance).

"It's impossible to set targets now - the only target is to win the next game.

"Then, when you get into March and are ready for the final few games of the season, that is when you have that dream or final target."

Everton's last home outing was a 6-2 thumping of Sunderland and Martinez has called on the Toffees to replicate the attacking threat showed then on Saturday, while at the same time stressing the need for better defensive work.

He has also suggested he has a good idea of what to expect from Villa, despite them having only had one game so far - a 0-0 home draw with league leaders Manchester City - under new boss Remi Garde.

"I don't think it's difficult at all (to assess Villa at the moment)," Martinez said.

"They were very impressive against City. The new manager has come in with a very clear idea of the way he wants Villa playing, and he has a really good experience of the British game from his time as a player (with Arsenal).

"I think - if you follow a little bit the success he had with (previous club) Lyon - you are going to see a team based on attacking football.

"And I think the togetherness and the fighting spirit they had against Manchester City is a really good starting point for this new chapter in his career."

PA Media

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