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Southampton (A) Sat 20 Dec 2014, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

Martinez: Praise The Players

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Roberto Martinez refused to take credit for the substitutions that sparked Everton's weekend win over Aston Villa - but said it's no coincidence his players keep making an impact from the bench.

A below-par first-half performance at Goodison Park left the Blues trailing 1-0 at the break to a 34th-minute strike from Leandro Bacuna.

However, the half-time introduction of Steven Pienaar notably lifted the hosts, before Steven Naismith grabbed an equaliser just four minutes after replacing right-back John Stones.

Earlier this campaign, Pienaar himself notched a winner just seconds after being thrown on against Hull City, while at Villa Park in October Leon Osman stepped off the bench to score one and make one in an eventual 2-0 win.

At West Ham in September, Romelu Lukaku inspired a 3-2 victory as a half-time change, while Gerard Deulofeu wasted little time in smashing a vital equaliser at then-league leaders Arsenal in December.

But if the above examples points to an astuteness on the part of the manager, the man himself says it's simply down to a hard-working ethos innate within his team.

"The substitutions are always down to the approach of the player," said Martinez. "We pride ourselves on what we do on a daily basis and every player has got the right mentality.

"So, when you see players coming on and doing what they do best, it's really pleasing.

"At this stage of the season you need everyone. Remember, we have had a few injuries and probably players coming back without that match fitness that you need. That means we need to measure really well the amount of minutes that the players share.

"Steven Naismith showed that he's desperate to show what he can do, and the manner in which he took his goal is an incredible example of what he is as a footballer. He deserves a lot of credit.

"As for Steven Pienaar, he is just always a joy to watch and his link up play with Leighton Baines was back to its best.

"The most important thing as a player is that, when you are on the pitch, you are ready to give a real quality display and help the team. That's what our players do week in and week out, so it's not a surprise."

The victory helped Everton overtake Sunday's opponents Tottenham to go fifth in the Barclays Premier League table.

Manchester United also lost at Stoke City, while Liverpool's draw at West Brom leaves the Toffees just two points behind their local rivals in the race for fourth.

But Martinez added: "It doesn't matter what the others do. We've got a clear vision of what we want to do and how we want to do it. We only ever worry about ourselves."

Don't miss your next chance to see the Blues in action. Tickets for the game against Crystal Palace (Wednesday 12 February, 7.45pm) are now on general sale. To buy, click here or call 0871 663 1878.

Alternatively, visit the Park End Box Office at Goodison Park, Everton Two in Liverpool One or TicketQuarter in Queen Square.
 

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