All the latest news, views and transfer rumours from Goodison Park...
Everton go into this weekend's huge clash with Arsenal just four points behind the Gunners, and with a game in hand also to Everton's benefit, the Toffees know that if they win all of their remaining games, they will break into the top four and secure a place in the Champions League next season. Midfielder James McCarthy believes that Roberto Martinez's side has what it takes to clinch a top four place, but acknowledged that it will be a tough task.
“Hopefully we can get a Champions League spot,” McCarthy said. “It’s going to be a big ask but we will give it our best shot. It’s in the balance and if we want it, it’s there for us. As a squad we believe we can do it but there is a long way to go. You need to enjoy the occasion and the challenge, if you don’t then you are in the wrong game."
Manager Martinez has earned rave reviews since his summer switch from Wigan Athletic, and the Spaniard has praised the depth of his squad, particularly in the case of defender John Stones, who has recently replaced the injured Phil Jagielka in the Everton side, and has performed admirably.
“I have huge confidence in this squad,” Martinez said. “The biggest compliment I could give is that I could pick any 11 from the players in our squad and play the way we want to play and show the concepts we want to have as a team."
“That is down to the standards we have at Finch Farm each day and the experienced players are the real pillars of this group. So, I always believe that you are only as good as your squad. The days of relying on 11 players are gone. We have been missing our club captain (Phil Jagielka) for a while now but we have a 19-year-old (John Stones) coming in and showing an incredible arrogance and level of how to play centre-half," he added.
Meanwhile, Everton will be looking to replace striker Romelu Lukaku in the summer, with the Belgian poised to return to Chelsea at the end of his season-long loan deal. CSKA Moscow's Seydou Doumbia was linked yesterday, but today it's the turn of Sevilla's Colombian international Carlos Bacca. The former Club Brugge man has hit 14 goals for Sevilla this season, and has been linked with a £9m move to Merseyside.