Martinez Hails Deadly Duo
Boss praises Everton's set-piece experts, Baines and Mirallas.
Roberto Martinez says he is blessed to have at his disposal two of the Premier League’s most deadly exponents of set-piece situations.
For several years, Leighton Baines has been the Toffees’ deadball chief, with 21 of the left-back’s 25 goals for the Club being scored from free-kicks or penalties.
Shoot-outs aside, Baines has netted all 14 of his spot-kicks in Everton colours – his most recent effort being at Stoke City's Britannia Stadium on New Year’s Day.
The England man has also scored seven trademark free-kicks, including his first ever goal for Everton, away at Portsmouth in 2008.
However, in the last two home matches, Belgium star Kevin Mirallas has demonstrated his capabilities from a similar range.
The winger scored stunning strikes in front of the Gwladys Street against both Norwich City and Aston Villa, with the latter earning what could eventually turn out to be a priceless three points.
Martinez hailed Mirallas’ 85th-minute winner as a ‘moment of magic’ and, when Baines netted a match-winning brace at West Ham United in September, the Blues boss described the left-back as a player who can put the ball ‘wherever he wants’.
But above all else, it is the duo’s sense of situation that Martinez admires the most. When opportunities arise at crucial phases of play, he says he can always depend on the two internationals to deliver.
“Both are very similar and Kevin Mirallas’ quality is as good as Leighton Baines, but obviously with different feet,” Martinez said.
“Kevin Mirallas, being right-footed, has got a completely different profile to Leighton Baines. There are areas around the 18-yard box where one player has got an advantage more than the other.
“It would be difficult to separate them but what I like about the two players is that, more than the execution or the technical aspect of hitting the ball, they know the meaning of scoring a goal to get three points. Both have got the mentality of controlling the moment. It’s something you have to be born with.
“You can learn the technique of the execution, but it is knowing when you have the opportunity to win the three points that is crucial.
“Some players freeze but those two are incredible.”
Watch Mirallas and Baines face Crystal Palace in the next game at Goodison on Wednesday 12 February.
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