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


Roberto Martinez believes past experiences of facing Stoke will aid Everton's preparations for their first-ever trip to the Cardiff City Stadium this weekend.

Since earning Premier League status in 2008, the Potters have become renowned for their goalscoring threat from set-piece situations.

Top-flight newcomers Cardiff displayed similar qualities in their surprise 3-2 victory over Manchester City last weekend, typified by Fraizer Campbell’s headed double from two corner kicks.

And Martinez is aware that a strong defensive showing will be crucial if the Blues are to return from Saturday’s visit to south Wales with points to their name.

“When you've been playing against Stoke for the last four years I think you're well prepared to cope with any dead ball situations," Martinez, who was unbeaten against the Potters in his four years in charge of Wigan, said.

"Dead ball situations are a big, big part of the game in any league in the world. In the Premier League there is probably that extra spice because there are teams that take advantage of it really, really well.

“It's a big part of the game and I think we need to be able to cope with that, even though Cardiff are one of the strongest sides from set pieces.”

Everton needed extra-time to overcome a resilient Stevenage in the Capital One Cup in midweek.

Martinez is expecting the Blues to encounter another spirited side this weekend - and one which has carried forward the positive momentum from last season's Championship-winning campaign.

Cardiff amassed 87 points last term and Bluebirds boss Malkay Mackay has spent just under £30million boosting his squad this summer, with the acquisitions of Andreas Cornelius, John Brayford, Steven Caulker and Gary Medel.

“Obviously they've made a few signings but they look like a team already,” explained the Toffees boss.

“They have a lot of unity and I think that has been the way of the football club in the last few years. They've got a real winning [mentality] and they've been disappointed in a couple of play-off situations.

“Last season they were too good for the Championship and this season they have carried on with all the good things they had last campaign but then they've added really well.

“Someone like Gary Medel from Sevilla has given them an extra bit of strength and you've got players all over the park with good experience and that makes them extra difficult to play against.

“They are a club who share a positive energy and any team who is going to play against them is going to have to match that first and foremost but they start thinking about the football.”

Martinez has never taken a team to the Cardiff City Stadium - but the Bluebirds' former ground, Ninian Park, was a familiar setting during his time as a player and manager at Swansea City.

With his connections to Cardiff's bitter rivals, the Spaniard is unsure of the reception he will receive from the home fans this weekend.

"I spent a really good time in South Wales. I’m sure I will get a welcome but what type, I don’t know," he joked. "We always had great derbies and that developed joy for football in Wales in general."

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