Everton coach seeks improved show in defence against Tottenham

Liverpool, Jan 2 (IANS) Everton head coach Roberto Martinez says a home meeting on Sunday with in-form Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League (EPL) is the ideal fixture to kick off 2016 as they aim to tighten their defence at the Goodison Park here.

Martinez acknowledged his team’s defence, which has conceded seven goals in the recent defeats to Leicester City and Stoke City, must raise its bar against the fourth-placed Tottenham.

Sunday’s game is the first of at least seven during a busy January, which will see Everton involved in three different domestic competitions. And Martinez believes victory and a good performance will give the Toffees an early new-year fillip heading into a hectic month.

“It’s a game that could really set our season up. It would give us a really good start for the new year,” Martinez told evertonfc.com on Friday.

“We know that it’s a game where we are going to be heavily tested but it’s the type of game where we need to show what we have been able to learn from the last few (home) matches.”

Tottenham travel to Merseyside having won their last three EPL fixtures. The Londoners triumphed 2-0 against Southampton the weekend before Christmas and then followed that up with a 3-0 victory over Norwich City on Boxing Day and a 2-1 away success over Watford on Monday.

“I’ve been a big admirer of the transformation of Tottenham under Mauricio Pochettino,” Martinez added when quizzed on the visitors’ form. “In the last few seasons, you have seen a team that is getting stronger. They are very tough to beat and competitive throughout and I feel this is one of the hardest games we have got left at Goodison this season,” the 42-year-old Spanish tactician pointed out.

“Arsenal and Spurs, they are two teams that want to get on the ball as we do. They are going to be challenging our possession game but it’s a test we’re excited for,” the former Swansea City and Wigan Athletic Club coach added.

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