Martinez sets points target

23 March 2014 07:31

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has set his side the target of taking 17 points from their remaining nine matches to see if they can qualify for the Champions League.

A 3-2 victory over Swansea - an eighth successive league win at Goodison Park - lifted the Toffees into fifth place and eight points behind Arsenal, in fourth, with a match in hand.

Although Martinez is happy with his side's tally of 54 points from 29 games he believes his side will have to maintain that average of 1.8 points per game to stand a chance of breaking into the Champions League places - and then they are still relying on one of the teams above them slipping up.

The fact they have yet to face Manchester City and Arsenal, two top-four incumbents, at home is in their favour and the Everton manager has urged his players to set their sights high.

"The points tally is what excites me. Nine games to go and 54 points - that is a very good return," said the Spaniard.

"This year's competition is as strong as it has been and to get to Europe you will need the highest points tally for a few years, so we need to be perfect and look at ourselves.

"The Europa League is not our aim, our aim is to get as many points as we can.

"Champions League football will be around 71 points - that is our target."

Everton made hard work of dispensing with a Swansea side who have failed to beat the Toffees in 20 meetings now.

Leighton Baines put the hosts ahead from the penalty spot, only for Wilfried Bony to equalise in the first half.

However, the spell immediately after the interval saw Romelu Lukaku and Ross Barkley restore the lead and Ashley Williams' injury-time header came too late to change anything.

"I am very pleased. We faced a really difficult test in Swansea and to get the all-important three points is a fantastic feeling," he added.

"We started really well the first 25 minutes then Swansea deserved the equaliser.

"We deserved the two-goal lead but at that point we sat back a little bit too much, trying to use the counter-attack - but overall I was very pleased with the maturity we had."

Swansea have problems at the other end of the table. Since sacking Michael Laudrup and putting former defender Garry Monk in charge they have picked up five points from six games and lie just four points above the relegation zone.

"We are working every day on the training ground," said interim boss Monk.

"If I thought I wasn't doing the right things I am honest enough to know. I will hold my hands up.

"I am not one of those managers who are going to sugar-coat things or lie to anyone.

"We have been very unlucky not to come up with a lot more points.

"When you come to places like this - and pretty much any game - there is always a period when the opposition have pressure and you have to manage it properly, get through it unscathed and make the right choices.

"We didn't do it and it cost us dearly. If we hadn't given them such a lead we could have been able to come away with something.

"Effort and desire this team has got it and will continue to show it until the end of the season - but we have to be clever in periods when we haven't got the ball."

Source: PA

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