Everton manager Roberto Martinez has said that small margins between the teams in the middle of the Premier League table mean every point carries an “extra significance” ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game against Stoke City.
Everton, lying 12th, could go as high as seventh to move into contention for a European place or drop as low as 14th and risk getting dragged into the relegation dogfight.
“We are looking at the small margins between the teams in the table, from now till the end of the season, every point is going to have an extra significance, especially when you play teams in and around you,” Martinez told reporters on Friday.
Martinez does not believe Stoke are suffering following their dramatic penalty-shootout exit in the League Cup semifinal against Liverpool last month.
“Stoke are a very experienced side. They are not going to take a hangover from any of the other results. They have some incredible individual quality,” Martinez said.
Martinez played down concerns about Romelu Lukaku, who was substituted at halftime in Wednesday’s 3-0 win over Newcastle United, and hopes the 22-year-old striker will be fit to face Stoke.
“He looked a lot freer yesterday afternoon. He looked back to being himself. I think, after the game he found it difficult to walk without pain. We were a little worried but there was no damage,” the Spaniard said.