All the latest news, views and transfer rumours from Goodison Park...
Everton face a tough test this coming weekend as they take on Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, and manager Roberto Martinez is looking for a reaction after their last league game, which was a 1-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur. Last Sunday's 3-1 home win over Swansea City in the FA Cup has renewed the optimism around the club, and Martinez believes his Toffees side can go to West London and get a result.
“This (Chelsea) team is stronger than the team we faced at Goodison in September but I would like to think we are stronger as well," said Martinez. "It is normal if you are working towards achieving something then the team is going to perform better in February than August and September."
“It is a really big challenge but a great opportunity and we are looking forward to it. We are ready for a tough game. We are capable of achieving a positive result at Chelsea – it is not unrealistic. We are now in a period where every game and result is significant and carries a message. The objective is for us to make sure we are ready to perform as well as we can," he added.
New signing Aiden McGeady has echoed Martinez's thoughts, suggesting that Everton should be taken seriously having performed well against top sides this season, and the winger believes that Everton can genuinely complete a double over Jose Mourinho's vaunted Blues side.
“I think it would send out a message that we’ve got to be taken quite seriously." said McGeady. “I think we already are to be honest, having already beaten Chelsea at home this season, having beaten Manchester United away and having played well against the big teams. It would be nice to beat them home and away though. That would be great for us."
Martinez has been handed a boost by the return of Paraguayan international defender Antolin Alcaraz, who is fit to face Chelsea at the weekend having recovered from a groin injury sustained in Everton's 4-0 thumping at the hands of Liverpool. Whilst Alcaraz isn't expected to break up the partnership between Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka, he offers good cover for Martinez in a time where Everton are seeking to close the gap on Liverpool in fourth place.
image: © Gene Hunt