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Stoke City (H) Fri 26 Dec 2014, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

Baines Happy To Win Ugly

@Everton

Leighton Baines says that he is happy to win ugly in order to keep alive Everton’s European dream.

The Blues maintained the pressure on Arsenal, Chelsea and Tottenham by grinding out a 1-0 home win over Stoke City in Saturday’s evening kick-off.

The England man was one of the first to admit that it wasn’t the best advert for the Premier League – but he reflected on a job well done as Everton’s five-man defence nullified Stoke’s physical threat.

“It was a battle and we knew we had to do that at different parts of the game,” said Baines.

“It was tough and the quality wasn’t what we wanted it to be but we got the three points and we go home happy.”

Everton boast the Premier League’s third best home record, with Chelsea the only team to take maximum points from Goodison Park this season.

Having played five successive matches on Merseyside, three of the Blues’ next four fixtures are away from home, starting at White Hart Lane in another televised clash next Sunday afternoon.

As well as facing Spurs, Baines is also relishing testing trips to the Emirates Stadium, Anfield and Stamford Bridge – all matches which could influence who ultimately qualifies for next season’s Champions and Europa Leagues.

“We are the ones who are trailing and that probably means we are the least favourite of the teams but we are fighters,” added Baines.

“We won’t stop believing and we will give everything we have got, as we did last week [against Manchester City] and today.

“If we can win a few more games and get close to the end of the season, that’s where we want to be.

“It’s a very big game now [Spurs next week] and an opportunity for us to catch them or for them to get a bit of distance.

“It’s a big game but there are plenty more after that and it won’t be decided by next weekend.”

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