Everton manager Roberto Martinez expects Sunderland to mirror Aston Villa’s approach when Dick Advocaat brings his side to Goodison Park this weekend.
Martinez saw his team beaten 3-2 by Villa last time out as Tim Sherwood’s men took a huge step towards ensuring their Premier League status.
Sunderland remain firmly in the mire – a point adrift of safety in 18th – but will be buoyed by their four-point haul against Stoke City and Southampton in their last two outings.
Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Southampton is sure to have bolstered Advocaat’s hopes of completing the great escape – having taken over in March with the club winless in seven.
“They’ll be feeling focused and feeling there’s an opportunity,” suggested Martinez, who will not risk Steven Pienaar on his return to full fitness.
“When you get down to the last 12 points like they have you see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s not just having a fear of getting relegated, it’s more knowing what you have to do to achieve your aim.
“The way to see if the team is doing exactly that, is when they start playing games rather than the fear of not achieving your aims.
“The last two games – the win against Southampton and the draw at Stoke – the team and the mindset is perfect and the experience of Advocaat has taken away the pressure and allowed them to play.
“Their mindset is right. We played Aston Villa who were in the same situation, they played every game with the belief they can get three points and I expect Sunderland to be the same.”
A lacklustre Everton were undone by Christian Benteke’s brace at Villa Park last weekend, having all-but ensured safety with four wins in their last six games.
However, the fact Everton have only a top-half finish in their sights should offer hope to Sunderland, despite Martinez’s men having not lost at home in the league in 2015.
Advocaat is unlikely to mix up his selection too much but can welcome back striker Steven Fletcher from an ankle complaint.
“They’ve done it the last two weeks, in giving everything they’ve got,” Advocaat told the Sunderland Echo of his side’s mini-revival.
“They’re doing it in training as well, otherwise it makes it easier for me [to make changes].
“It was an honour to sit on the bench last weekend and that has given us a better feeling this week.”
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!