Friday 6 December 2019

Martinez: Spurs can make top four

Everton boss Roberto Martinez, pictured left, has no doubt Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino, right, will be a success
Everton boss Roberto Martinez, pictured left, has no doubt Tottenham counterpart Mauricio Pochettino, right, will be a success

Everton boss Roberto Martinez expects Tottenham to mount a strong Champions League challenge over the remainder of the season.

Both teams, who meet in the Barclays Premier League on Sunday, have had an up-and-down start to the campaign and sit together on 17 points from 12 games.

Everton have recovered from a poor start to go unbeaten in eight games in all competitions while Tottenham also appear to be on the up, winning five of their last six matches.

The pair are in the same boat having won Europa League matches on Thursday to book their places in the knockout stages.

Martinez said: "It helps because we're facing really strong opposition but they had an important and intense game as well so we're quite similar in the way we've been able to prepare for the game.

"It's not the same when you're facing an opponent who have had seven days to prepare.

"I really admire this Spurs side. I think they've got a really talented squad.

"They're a team that are fighting to get into the Champions League positions and I do think that they're going to be a really dangerous side as the new manager and players are getting used to the way they want to play.

"They're going to be a real force in the second half of the season, I'm convinced of that.

"Every aspect of this Spurs side has been tailor-made to get into the Champions League. It's just a matter of time and they will get there consistently."

Mauricio Pochettino took over the Spurs hotseat this summer after winning plenty of admirers during his time at Southampton.

But, while Saints have continued to soar under new manager Ronald Koeman, Pochettino has found the road a little bumpier at White Hart Lane.

Martinez has no doubt the Argentinian will get it right, though, saying: "Mauricio is someone who knows exactly what he wants and he knows exactly how his teams play.

"It always takes time when you go into a new club to get the rhythm of giving consistent results.

"But I know the way he is, and the way that he's adapted to the British game so well - because he's done that incredibly fast with his time at Southampton - he's going to bring a winning formula.

"All I hope is he doesn't bring it too soon. We know it's going to be a terrific game of football, really open, two teams that really want to win and find a way to score goals."

Martinez's first European campaign has been smooth sailing so far, with Everton unbeaten in the Europa League and already guaranteed to win a tough group also featuring Wolfsburg, Lille and Kuban Krasnodar.

They have a final game against Krasnodar to come next month, which will give Martinez a chance to dig deeper into his squad.

The Spaniard said: "We knew when the draw was made this group was going to be really challenging to get through, never mind to be in the position we are, top of the group with one game to spare.

"It's a phenomenal achievement and it's been a really interesting journey. We've had great performances and I think we're ready now for the next level.

"In the final game we're facing Krasnodar, who have no chance to get through. We're in a position where it's a game we can use as an experience for the youngsters.

"It's a unique opportunity. We want to win the game but the objective was to finish top of the group."

Who is your sportstar of the year?

Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.

Prizes include, tickets to Ireland's against Scotland in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.

Simply click here to register your vote

PA Media

The Left Wing: The problem with the Champions Cup, the Stephen Larkham effect and trouble in Welsh rugby

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport