Roberto Martinez is not the type to let things rile him.
Perceived slights which may get other managers hot under the collar are usually met with a smile and a quip or simply turned on their head into a positive.
It’s just his indomitable style.
That’s why he barely raised an eyebrow when reminded that the bookies have all got Arsenal as favourites to win at Goodison Park this afternoon.
But what about the Blues taking four points off Arsene Wenger’s men last term?
Irrelevant according to Billy Hill & Co. Arsenal are top dogs.
Martinez isn’t the type to thrive on underdog status either, but when he insisted last week that his team must actually earn the right to be considered a genuine threat to the top four sides he had a point.
“It doesn’t surprise me because they are a team that got into the Champions League positions and have been doing it for many years. We’ve got to earn that respect,” he said.
“I don’t think just one season when we did well in two games against them can give you an outcome in that respect.”
Martinez’s point is succinctly underlined in an excellent, if rather sobering, piece on the Sporting Intelligence website.
“As Everton prepare to host Arsenal at Goodison Park on Saturday, it is notable that, since 1992, Everton have lost twice as many home Premier League game against Arsenal (10 of them) as they have won (five).
“There have also been seven PL draws for Everton v Arsenal at Goodison,” writes Brian Sears.
“Everton have also lost more times at home against Liverpool than they’ve won in the era (9 defeats, 7 wins), and lost more against Tottenham (7-5), and against Chelsea (8-7) and against Manchester United (14-5).
“Away from home, Everton’s record against those clubs has been even worse.
“Of 110 games against those clubs on their grounds, Everton have won just nine in total in the PL era, and lost 65.
“That’s why games for Everton against the ‘big’ clubs are arguably the best barometer of how they might fare in a season.
“And the first such test this campaign is this weekend.”
The statistics may not be especially palatable, but they are difficult to avoid.
Martinez’s fabulous season of firsts last term started to erase the dread of facing the top four, but the Blues still need to take the next step – particularly when going to the Emirates, Stamford Bridge et al
They can start with a performance this evening which reinforces that last season was no fluke.
Both the Gunners and Chelsea were defeated at Goodison last term; the Chelsea result coming after an inauspicious start of three draws.
If the Toffees can follow their so-so display against Leicester City with a classic against Arsenal they will underline their potential once again, and start to turn the stats slightly more in their favour along the way.
*Three key questions: the big talking points ahead of the Everton FC’s clash with Arsenal FC.
Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s…1971
Everton are going back to the seventies at Goodison Park tonight.
The matchday magazine for the visit of The Gunners will sport a retro theme . . . familiar to older fans, bold and innovative to younger Blues!
It’s a theme which will be developed as the season progresses.
Everton’s Media & Publications Manager, Darren Griffiths, explained: “In the last couple of seasons we have produced a 1970s style front cover for the games at Goodison that we have themed ‘Retro Day’ and they were very popular with our fans.
“So many people commented on them and it gave me the idea to have a different retro cover for every game. So that’s what we’re going to do!
“We will basically be taking front covers from past seasons, going as far back as the 1950s, and reproducing them for our home games this season, adding a modern image where applicable.
“I have seen some of the mocked-up covers and I love them. It’s something completely different that we haven’t tried before and along the way we will be asking the fans for their favourite front covers down the years.
“Everyone can remember the front cover of the programme from their first season of watching Everton and I am confident that the fans will embrace this idea.
“When I first started collecting Everton programmes it was the 1971-72 season and the covers often featured a team picture of the opposition of the day.
“Will we try that? I haven’t decided yet!”
Snods and Stuart take a Zip Wire challenge
Ian Snodin and Graham Stuart will be viewing the city from a different angle on September 1 when they take part in the Liverpool Wire challenge to raise funds for Everton in the Community.
The adrenalin-fuelled jump will see the duo take a leap of faith in support of the Club’s official charity when they depart Church Street from a launch height of almost 100ft before cruising at speeds of up 40mph for nearly 1000ft.
“The work that Everton in the Community deliver is truly remarkable and makes such a difference to the lives of so many,” said Snodin.
“To say that both Diamond are I are nervous about this zip wire is an understate-ment, but hopefully Everton fans will help with our fundraising and turn out on the day to cheer us on!”
The Liverpool Wire challenge places for Snodin and Stuart were donated by Liverpool BID Company.
And CEO, Bill Addy, added: “We are delighted to continue our work with Everton in The Community and, having the Wire in Liverpool for the summer, it is only right that we offer the legends the chance to rise to the challenge.”
Everton in the Community offers over 40 programmes covering a range of social issues across Merseyside, including health, employability, crime, dementia, youth engagement and disability.
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