Roberto Martinez believes Everton and Watford’s progress to the FA Cup semi-finals might have hindered their respective Premier League form.
Martinez’s men travel to Vicarage Road on Saturday having lost their past three league matches – a run punctuated by the stirring FA Cup quarter-final win over Chelsea last month.
Everton failed to find the net in subsequent losses to Arsenal and Manchester United, increasing murmurings of discontent from their fanbase as a season that promised so much ahead of the opening-day draw with Saturday’s opponents continues to be dogged by frustrating inconsistency.
“They’re in a similar situation. If you look at each team that has got through to the FA Cup semi-finals, they haven’t won a game in the league since,” Martinez told a pre-match news conference.
“We need to be obsessed with the games that we have got left in the league. We are not a team that are going to give in in one competition.
“We have got one game in hand and a lot of points to fight for. The standards we have at the football club, we have to concentrate on every single point there is left to fight for.
“Clearly the hype that we had on achieving a place in the semi-final of the FA Cup has affected results in the Premier League.
“It is up to us now to take responsibility and make sure we get as many points as we can. That’s a real vital focus that we need to show.”
Watford progressed to a Wembley semi against Crystal Palace by beating Arsenal but Arsene Wenger’s side gained revenge at Emirates Stadium in the Premier League last weekend as they dealt out a 4-0 beating.
Like fellow Spaniard Martinez, Hornets boss Quique Sanchez Flores is smarting from recent setbacks.
“Nobody is happy in the club, in the squad, in the staff with our last performance, so we are looking forward for the ways we can change. It was a soft and light performance so we know perfectly well we need to change,” he told Hornets PlayerHD.
“We are thinking a lot about ourselves, and this is our idea. We respect Everton a lot, we respect the amazing players they have and the coach also, but we need to recuperate our way that we’ve played during the season, this is the most important thing.”
Everton will be bolstered by the steadying influence of Gareth Barry after the veteran missed their past two matches through suspension, although fellow midfielders Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar are nursing knocks and will be assessed.
Watford’s winless Premier League run currently stands at five matches, although Flores will have a full squad to choose form if Valon Behrami recovers from illness.
Key Opta stats
– Everton have won nine of their last 10 games in all competitions against Watford, last losing in March 1987.
– Only Crystal Palace (three) have gained fewer points in 2016 than Watford (eight).
– If Everton fail to score on Saturday it will be the first time since April 2006 that they have not found the net in three consecutive Premier League games.
– Watford have lost their past four league games. They were last beaten five times in a row in the Championship in November 2008.
– Of English players in the Premier League only Leicester City’s Marc Albrighton (58) has created more than Watford’s Troy Deeney and Everton’s Ross Barkley (both 48).
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