Man City face tough game - Martínez

LONDON - Roberto Martínez has vowed Manchester City will face their toughest away fixture of the season at Goodison Park, as he rebuked the conspiracy that Everton would stand aside to hinder Liverpool's title challenge.

City need to win their last three matches to ensure they snatch the Premier League title from Liverpool's grasp, possibly on goal difference, starting today at Goodison, a ground where they have lost seven, drawn two and won only one of their last 10 visits.

The title will be back in Liverpool's hands should Manuel Pellegrini's team drop points at Everton but, while his team's supporters may dread that prospect, Martínez insists his only concern is collecting 75 points and qualifying for Europe.

The Everton manager said he would be insulted if his team's professionalism was called into question when they had nothing to play for. With Champions League qualification mathematically possible, if unrealistic after last weekend's defeat at Southampton, he is confident Everton will confront City with the form that recently defeated Arsenal and Manchester United at Goodison Park.

"Fans have been saying: 'Don't worry about the weekend – if we win, great; if we lose, it's not a problem,' but I see that only as a bit of banter. I don't think anyone at Everton would want their team to lose," said Martínez.

"There is not even a question mark about us. For us it means everything to win this game in terms of the overall season. I can understand the banter between the fans but Liverpool can be assured that Goodison will be the toughest place for Man City to travel this season, that is for sure. Helping other teams is not in our nature. We're not going on the pitch to do anyone a favour, just to carry on making everyone at this football club proud."

Everton will be without the ineligible Gareth Barry, the injured Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar plus have injury doubts over Leighton Baines, Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka against City, although the club captain is expected to return to the squad following a hamstring problem. His players' professionalism, Martínez insisted, should not be questioned.

He added: "As a professional group and a team we represent Everton. That means we represent every single player that has played for Everton in the past and our work for the last 10 months. You wouldn't come in now and not give your all to finish as good as you can. I would be hurt or insulted if we had nothing to play for and even then our professionalism was in doubt but that is not even in question now.” – The Guardian

Today

West Ham v Tottenham (1:45pm), Aston Villa v Hull (4pm), Man U v Sunderland (4pm), Newcastle v Cardiff (4pm), Stoke v Fulham (4pm), Swansea v Southampton (4pm), Everton v Man City (6:30pm)                        

Tomorrow

Arsenal v West Brom (2:30pm), Chelsea v Norwich (5pm)

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