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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League


Steven Pienaar says he is determined to regain his early-season form and contribute with at least two more goals in Everton’s remaining Premier League fixtures.

The South African admits he has struggled to reach his customary high standards since returning from suspension.

Pienaar missed the win over Stoke and the draw at former club Tottenham after he was sent-off for two bookable offences against Manchester City last month, before returning to fold against QPR, Arsenal and Sunderland.

But with just four games left he is focused on regaining some sharpness and bettering his best ever seasonal goals return.

“I was out for a month with suspension. It was only two games but it was a long month,” Pienaar told evertontv.

“I had just been training and it wasn’t the same so when you come back your match fitness and sharpness is not there. You have to get into it again and I’ve not been too happy in the last two games.

“It’s one of those where you have to get your sharpness back again from playing games and hopefully in the next few games I can improve.

“Hopefully I can get two more goals to finish on eight for this season. But the most important thing is for the team to win, so that’s my goal.”

Pienaar concedes that he does not know what to expect from Fulham when they visit Goodison Park this Saturday afternoon.

The Cottagers sit nine points above the drop-zone and with their Premier League status all but secured for next season, Martin Jol’s team are almost totally relieved any pressure that comes with the involvement in a relegation dogfight.

“It is hard because you don’t know what you are going to get,” added the 31-year-old. “You might get a team that just want the 90 minutes to be over or a team that just wants to enjoy the game and make it difficult.

“Let’s hope it is a team that don’t want to be here on Saturday so we can go and take all three points.”

Indeed, Pienaar believes the Goodison faithful can once again play their part in Everton achieving another home victory.

If the Toffees win their remaining two league fixtures against Fulham and West Ham, they will finish the campaign having recorded maximum points from 12 of their 19 home matches.

It would also signify the club’s fewest home defeats in a Premier League campaign, with the sole home loss against Chelsea in December eclipsing the two suffered during the 2009/10 season.

“The supporters have been the twelfth man for us and they have pushed us to the level where we don’t want to lose at home. I think most of the teams don’t want to come to Goodison this season – that’s how difficult we’ve made it," continued Pienaar.

“That’s thanks to the supporters being behind us, to lifting us and giving us the energy. We’ve been putting teams under pressure and I think that’s why teams don’t like coming to Goodison.

“They have made a difference to us and we as players want to thank them for their support throughout the whole season. There have been times, like when we played Newcastle away and then the next game was down south in the cup game [at Cheltenham], when supporters have travelled up and down the country.

“It’s unbelievable to have such supporters and we really want to thank them. We really want to win our games so they can go home happy.”

 Tickets for Saturday's game - one which could yet prove vital in the race for Europe - are available tobuy online here or by calling 0871 663 1878.
Alternatively, fans can visit the Park End Box Office at Goodison Park, Everton Two in Liverpool One or TicketQuarter in Queen Square.

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