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

Boss Seeks Sharper Edge

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

Roberto Martinez wants to marry Everton's defensive stinginess with an even greater attacking threat.
 
The joy of three successive clean sheets has been tempered by the Blues drawing a blank in front of goal in their last two matches.
 
But with Everton preparing for the Merseyside derby on Saturday lunchtime, Martinez admitted developing a sharper offensive edge has been a priority.
 
He said: "You look at the statistics and try to make sure you keep the good ones for the long-term. To be able to keep clean sheets is always a very important part of your play.
 
"I think we're developing into a team that is now able to get into the final third really often with a very good threat.
 
"The next step is to use that to our advantage and make sure we get more goals. That's just a natural process.
 
"The way the team is working defensively and off the ball allows you to have a clean sheet and that is an aspect of our performances that I don't want to lose."

Martinez's tenure at Goodison has seen some impressive possession and ball retention statistics recorded – but the manager insists those numbers will only ever be a bi-product of his desire to provide a winning football team.
 
"We don't perform to get good stats," he insisted. "We do so to get stronger and better, to have a better understanding of how we are going to win football games.
 
"I do feel we are on the right path for that."
 
Tickets are sold out for Saturday's derby clash, but Blues can secure their seat for some of the biggest home games of the season with a Half Season Ticket.
 
Prices for the 10-game offering start at just £50 for Under-11s and include the visits of Manchester United, Arsenal and Manchester City. Click here to buy online.

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