Apr 112014
 

Blues head up to the North East with the two sides in very different runs of former, but boss says this means nothing

Everton cannot afford to underestimate a Sunderland side capable of representing the toughest task of their run-in, manager Roberto Martinez has warned.

 The Blues boss will leave his high-flying Toffees under no illusions about the difficulties they will face at the Stadium of Light tomorrow, despite the admission of Black Cats boss Gus Poyet that the struggling Wearsiders will need a ‘miracle’ to avoid relegation.

 The Uruguayan made the comments after his outfit were thrashed 5-1 at Tottenham on Monday night, a result which was their fourth consecutive defeat.

 But Martinez insists the Black Cats are in such a desperate need for points they will arguably become more dangerous opponents.

 He said: “We expect Sunderland to be one of the toughest games left in the competition, if not the toughest.

 “We’ve had to work hard to get the scorelines and we’re enjoying the moment but at the same time we’re aware that it isn’t easy to be perfect in every game you go into and you can lose that very quickly.

 “They (Sunderland) will be aware that every fixture they go into will be an opportunity to get points. You get to a point where you’ve got nothing to lose.

 “Sunderland are in a position now where they have got seven finals and they are going to approach it in that manner.

 “They have had significant performances at home in the league this season – Manchester City to mention just one.

“They can replicate that level any time, as they showed in the League Cup when they were

phenomenal. When you are in that (position), you need to get as many points as you can.

“We are in the same mindset because we are in a position where we are fighting for our own aim.

 “That’s going to make it a really exciting and tense game. The small margins are going to be vital, so we need to recover well.”

He added: “The demands on Sunday against Arsenal were huge, but psychologically the whole football club senses a real feel-good factor and that’s something we need to use in our advantage.”

 The reverse fixture at Goodison Park on Boxing Day saw Everton suffer their solitary home defeat of the season to date.

 Tim Howard’s first-half red card allowed Sunderland the chance to take the lead from the penalty spot, with Poyet’s men subsequently holding on to claim just one of six league victories achieved this term.

 Martinez insists that despite the disappointment at the time, it was a day which has since helped drive his team forward during the second half of the campaign.

 He continued: “Sunderland, as we all know, is the only game we have lost at home all season in the league.

“We lost a player quite early and we had to adapt.

 “What we did learn was how strong the squad is to reach the level of performance we did with 10 men in the second half.

“It was very impressive and, in a way, it set the good standards to go forward.

 “At the end we didn’t get the result we all wanted, but it is fair to say the performance deserved a lot better.

“Now we need to make sure the points we dropped that day, we find with everything we have on Saturday.”

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