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Martinez Enthused by Top-four Chances


Roberto Martinez is hoping Everton can be the beneficiaries of champions Chelsea’s poor start to the season and break into the top four.

The Toffees snapped a two-game winless run in the Premier League last Sunday with a 6-2 thrashing of strugglers Sunderland and trail Manchester United in the coveted final Champions League qualification spot by just five points.

Chelsea have won only three of their opening 11 games and are 14 points adrift of leaders Manchester City – and 10 behind Louis van Gaal’s men.

“I think what has happened is clear. With the poor start of Chelsea it has opened up one position in that top four,” Martinez told reporters, ahead of Saturday’s trip to the Boleyn Ground to take on West Ham.

“If Chelsea would have had 23, 24, 25 points it would have been very difficult to see light at the end of that top four.”

Martinez believes the race for the top-four places in the Premier League is wide open and sees no reason why the likes of Everton, early-season surprise package Leicester City and Saturday’s opponents West Ham cannot force their way into the Champions League reckoning.

“Now, with the way West Ham and Leicester have started I think it’s very significant how good those two teams are,” he said.

“It’s not a coincidence after 11 games that you get a team in that position.”

Everton defender Bryan Oviedo could miss up to three weeks because of a hamstring injury and Leighton Baines is still not ready to return after ankle surgery, but Tom Cleverley could be involved for the first time since August.