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Former Liverpool star: Everton can take Champions League place

Four points off Arsenal at the top of the division, Everton can be the surprise package of the season because of Martinez's nous.

The appointment of Roberto Martinez by Everton chairman Bill Kenwright appears to be a master-stroke.

Not many could have continued the stability and consistency of erstwhile manager David Moyes as the Scot engineered The Toffees into a challenging machine, but that is what Martinez has achieved in what former Liverpool striker Michael Owen calls a club who 'continually punch above their weight'.

Owen, now 34, may have returned 158 goals from 297 appearances in all competitions for Liverpool but the Englishman was a boyhood Evertonian as he testified to on his SportLobster blog where he said: '[They are] the club I supported as a boy'.

Everton currently occupy fifth spot in the Premier League table and are just four points behind Arsenal thanks to consistently quality performances from on-loan striker Romelu Lukaku, midfielder Gareth Barry, chance creator Kevin Miralles, defenders Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines as well as a look into the future with wonderkind Ross Barkley and Gerard Deulofeu, who may end up spending his future somewhere else thanks to his loan status (employed by Barcelona).

Said Owen: 'Roberto Martinez has immediately stamped his style on the team and make no mistake, they have players that would walk into any Premier League teams starting eleven.

'There are no weak links in their team and providing their treatment room stays empty, a Champions League place is well within their capabilities,' he prophecised.

image: © Ben Sutherland

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