His goals have left Everton FC fans grinning lately, and it’s all thanks to the smile on his own face.
Steven Naismith’s happy-go-lucky demeanour is the key to his recent impressive form, according to Roberto Martinez .
Scotland international Naismith, 27, has netted four times in his club’s last five games, and arrives at Stamford Bridge this lunch-time brimming with confidence.
Adding to his positive frame of mind will be the knowledge he has scored the last two times Everton have faced Chelsea.
And Martinez believes the man once dubbed ‘Kid Goals’ when he was regarded as the wonder-kid of Scottish football, is turning the clock back because he is simply enjoying his craft once again.
“At times I look at him and see the player I saw coming through the leagues at Kilmarnock as a youngster with a real freedom and clinical eye,” says Martinez. “It’s a massive strength for us.
Everton FC 3-1 Swansea
“It’s just about having a smile on his face.
“There has been a combination of aspects behind his form. He’s more settled and this season he’s shown an enjoyment of playing the game.
“When you start to enjoy it you forget about the pressure and fulfilling the expectations.”
Naismith rose from the bench to play a crucial role in Everton’s victory over Swansea City in the FA cup last weekend, but recalled little of his 25-minute cameo after suffering concussion towards the end.
However, the former Rangers striker quickly received the all-clear to train earlier in the week, much to Martinez’s relief.
With Romelu Lukaku forced to sit-out the clash against his parent club today, and Lacina Traore only building match fitness after a long period on the sidelines prior to his arrival, he is likely to rely on the Scot once again.
“The neurologist was really pleased with Stevie’s training and he had the green light to star training in the week,” says Martinez.
“It’s fair to say stats reflect good moments of form and Steve is enjoying one of those. He’s such an intelligent footballer he can take up different roles for us; he’s been playing out wide, up front and has a natural knack for playing the number nine role because he’s clinical in front of goal.
“We want him to carry on enjoying himself. Between now and the end of the season the small margins will be vital, and I think there will be more goals from Steven.
“We’re really, really excited to see Steven Naismith develop into the player he can be with Everton.”
The first of Naismith’s six goals so far this term came in a 1-0 win over Jose Mourinho’s side at Goodison back in September.
nd the memory of that triumph will instil belief all around the away dressing room today, according to Martinez.
“We were the first team to beat them in the league and that will give us confidence going to Stamford Bridge,” he says.
“We’re also at the strongest we’ve been since the start of the season now. We’re looking at the next 13 games in the league and the FA Cup quarter final with a real desire and confidence.
“It’s about looking at ourselves and how we can improve our points tally.
“Chelsea are in great form at Stamford Bridge and they produced an outstanding performance against Manchester City at the Etihad.
“They are going to have a massive say in the League and the Champions League.
“We felt really unfairly treated by football in general after going to White Hart Lane and playing so well, so we have to make sure that doesn’t happen again at Stamford Bridge.
“In football you need tests like this though. Mourinho has strong home records at every club and we’ll have to be at our best and find a way to do it. We won’t be given anything.”
Mourinho has reestablished himself as the chief content curator for national newspaper headline writers lately, with a series of high-profile barbs at rival bosses.
But Martinez dismissed the importance of psychological games played from the dug-out.
“Football is not about managers,” he says. “We create a lot of uproar about nothing often. It’s about the players.
“What excites me is seeing how well our players can adapt tomorrow. Football is simple – it’s 11 v 11 and the squad of players behind.”
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