Aug 212014

Kevin Mirallas is a player for the grand-stage, a performer who comes alive for the big occasions.

Just don’t call him a fair-weather footballer.

It’s an accusation which has been sporadically labelled against the Belgian, but Roberto Martinez is having none of it.

There are tactical reasons, which the Blues boss diligently explains, why the 26-year-old can flourish against the top sides, but he never lacks application regardless of the opposition.

“There are certain games that are harder for his ability, like if there is a lack of space,” he says.

WEST BROM: H – Jan 17 A – Sept 13  

“It’s more difficult for him to show what he can do then. If the game is really eye to eye then that’s where he is at his best. When spaces develop he’s a really intelligent player in the way he can hurt the opposition.

“If you play against teams that from the outside are seen as not as big games, what normally changes is the approach of the opposition. Normally they are more defensive minded and those sort of games are always harder for all forward players not just Kevin.

“But it’s a bit harsh to say he drops his level against lower opposition.”

That notion well and truly scotched, Martinez believes the flying forward will continue where he left off last term for the Blues this season.

Goals against Liverpool, Manchester United and an effort against Arsenal, later attributed as an own goal by Mikel Arteta, helped the Toffees to a strong campaign.

He was certainly missed when injury denied him the chance to shine in the run-in.

And Martinez feels the man who rejected a move to Arsenal in favour of Goodison in 2012, has grown in stature further over the summer.

Everton vs Liverpool at Goodison Park. Late tackle by Kevin Mirallas on Luis Suarez. Photo by Colin Lane Everton vs Liverpool at Goodison Park. Late tackle by Kevin Mirallas on Luis Suarez. Photo by Colin Lane  

“Kevin is a vital part of our squad,” he says. “What he brings is quite unique and we haven’t got another player who can perform that role.

“I was so pleased to see him get a lot of praise in the World Cup when he came on and changed games. He is that sort of player who can produce something at the right time; that injection of quality can make a real difference for teams.

“He did it a lot for us last season and I feel he has the attributes to be a very important performer for us this season.

He will get a lot of admiration from world football.

“Nothing fazes him and he’s always ready to perform.”

Everton’s Belgian contingent was permanently boosted this summer when Mirallas’ international team-mate Romelu Lukaku signed in a deal worth £28m.

And Lukaku was another player who sparkled when Arsene Wenger’s men were comprehensively outplayed during April’s 3-0 win.

The 21-year-old’s goal was an inspirational moment for everyone inside the Old Lady, and something Martinez still recalls with a smile.

“There was a lot of preparation for that game and it showed the rewards for that work and how he absorbed what he was told,” he says.

“It shows you Rom is a modern footballer truly. He knows what he brings to the side but can also adapt his way of playing just to suit the team and the opposition. That’s why he is ahead f a lot of other strikers in the world.

“As a runner with the ball he can be a strong footballer, he has the hold-up play and can be a top finisher and use space well. Then more importantly he can take instructions in with a real understanding and precision like that game.

“So he’s a complete player and very mature for such a young age.”

Fond memories undoubtedly but Martinez is focusing only on tomorrow tea-time now, when he admits Everton will need to be similarly ruthless if they are to pick up their first win of the campaign.

“I think this Arsenal side are better than they were last season with the additions they have made,” he says. “But they’re very similar to us with the philosophy that they have.

“The way Arsenal play has earned a real sense of admiration from people in world football. At Goodison, we really enjoy our football and we can’t wait to get our season started at home from that perspective.

“I think both teams are going to fight really hard to control the game and get on the ball. The difference is how good you can be in the final third.”

“All three games last season were very similar. Technically, they were the best performances you are going to see in a game in the Premier League.

Everton’s Kevin Mirallas celebrates scoring the second goal  

“Both teams are ones that want to win the games by scoring goals and that’s always going to make it an open game. As I say, it all depends on how sharp and how clinical you can be in front of goal.”

Martinez is not entertaining any hopes that Arsenal’s mid-week Champions League qualifier against Besiktas will detract from their levels tomorrow.

“I look at them with their experience and know-how and don’t think that qualifier will affect them at all,” he says. “If anything it could be a positive because it can get rid of that rustiness and get you into a competitive frame of mind straight away.

“You may think you want to play top teams early on before they hit their full potential but when they’re in a game like they were in Turkey it could be a negative for us.

“We need to replicate the level of performance we showed against them at Goodison last season. The philosophy is clear – both teams will want to impose themselves on the game.”

More football news here in a few hours, just as soon as Ive gone for some food. This site is here for all fans, so please interact by leaving a comment on any article, or by writing on the fan wall (thats the wall over there in the top right. For great special offers visit the shop, or click here to compare prices of signed Everton shirts.

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