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Stoke City (A) Wed 4 Mar 2015, 19:45, Barclays Premier League

by Adam Clark @efc_adamclark

Everton forward Steven Naismith believes Saturday's win over Sunderland was every bit as big as last weekend's 3-0 defeat of top-four rivals Arsenal.

The victory at the Stadium of Light took Roberto Martinez's men two points above the Gunners and up into fourth in the Barclays Premier League table.

And Scotland international Naismith insists it was vital to grind out a seventh straight league victory with just five games left to play.

"Last week was a massive three points and this one was just as big," said Naismith. "It was hard fought but, to be honest, we expected that before the game.

"Sunderland are fighting for their lives and we knew they would give everything, start at a high tempo and try to get the crowd behind them.

"We weathered that early storm and we knocked the ball around well without creating too many chances. But we kept doing the right things and eventually it paid off."

Naismith missed one gilt-edged first-half opportunity and the Blues had to wait until the 75th minute for Wes Brown's own goal to the decide the contest.

And the in-form 27-year-old admits he was grateful his wayward shot didn't come back to haunt him.

He added: "Bainesy's played a good ball in and I've managed to turn the defender. I've probably got more time than I thought and I've leant back a bit and it's gone over the bar. But, in the end, we've worked hard and we've got the result, and that's what we need.

"The confidence is really high and it shows you the confidence we've got in the squad with Gerard Deulofeu coming in and effectively getting the matchwinner.

"That's what it's been all along - about the squad. We're confident going into every game and now we're at the business end of things we just need to keep on winning.

"We know what the goal is but we're not getting carried away. It wasn't the prettiest of games but the result was the main thing."

Tickets for Wednesday's visit of Crystal Palace are still available. 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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