Roberto Martinez believes Everton’s mentality can give them an advantage in the battle to qualify for the Uefa Champions League.
Everton overtook Arsenal in fourth place with victory over Sunderland at the weekend to move into pole position with five games remaining. But Arsenal re-gained the fourth spot on Tuesday night with a 3-1 win over West Ham United.
Everton are enjoying their best winning league run since the 1980s and will look to make it eight victories in a row when Crystal Palace visit Goodison Park on Wednesday night.
The club have qualified for the Champions League just once in the Premier League era, while Arsenal are looking to do so for the 18th consecutive season.
Asked whether the mental side could prove the difference, Everton boss Martinez said: “It always is, and not just for us but for every team that goes into meaningful games.
“You only decide games on technical, tactical and physical aspects when they don’t mean much.
“When there is a real meaning in every point that you play for, psychologically you need to be very strong, and probably that’s a big advantage that we have, and we’ve shown that in the last seven or eight weeks.
“The team is focused, the football club is focused and we are very much all together fighting for the same aim. Psychologically we’ve got that winning mentality that you need.
“When you get into a position like we are, it’s a little bit unknown ground breaking through the points tally that we have.
“Psychologically we’re taking a very simple approach, trying to give everything that we’ve got and everything we’ve learned over the last 10 months to be as competitive as we can in every game.”
The victory over Sunderland took Everton to 66 points, setting a new record for their highest total in the Premier League.
While Martinez is focusing intently on the clash with in-form Palace, who have won their last three games, he also believes looking at the bigger picture is essential.
He said: “I always take the same approach that in the final third of the season you need to have a little bit of an overall view, and I think we’ve been doing that.
“What I’ve been pleased about is we’ve been using the whole squad available, the players are looking ready, fresh and sharp.
“We do look at the maximum points that we can fight for, and with the amount of points we have now and the 15 we can fight for, it’s a really exciting end to the season for us.”
Arsenal manager Wenger: We will focus on ourselves
Manager Arsene Wenger challenged his Arsenal side to focus on doing their own job after beating West Ham 3-1 with a wonder goal from Olivier Giroud rather than worry about Everton’s form in the race for Uefa Champions League qualification.
The FA Cup finalists moved back up into the top four after coming from behind when Matt Jarvis put the Irons ahead at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday night with a brace from Lukas Podolski either side of Giroud’s brilliant finish.
However, Everton could leapfrog them again by beating Crystal Palace on Wednesday, with the race for the top four set to go to the wire.
Wenger, though, maintains Arsenal have to take care of their own results first.
He said: “We know we have to win our games and hope that Everton will slip up somewhere. Let’s focus on our job and not look too much at Everton.
“If we need that we’ll see when we need it, but at the moment we can only do it if we win our games, so let’s focus on that.”
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