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Martinez vows to dent City title hopes

ESPN staff
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Roberto Martinez's side need one more point to secure their place in next season's Europa League © Getty Images
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Roberto Martinez has reassured Merseyside rivals Liverpool that his Everton side will not do Manchester City any favours in the Premier League title race.

Liverpool are two points clear at the top of the table with two matches left - but third-placed City have a game in hand and can overhaul them.

Manuel Pellegrini's side visit Goodison Park on Saturday, when an Everton win would move Liverpool a huge step closer to their first league title since 1990.

Martinez calls for loan rule change

  • Roberto Martinez has called for a change in the Premier League's loan rules - arguing it is wrong that Gareth Barry cannot play for Everton against Manchester City on Saturday.
  • Midfielder Barry, on a season's loan from City, must sit out the match as the league will not allow a player to face his parent club. The rules are not as strict in the Football League, where a team can give permission for a loaned-out player to feature against them.
  • "We shouldn't have two different sets of rules in different competitions. I think the domestic laws should be the same as the European laws.
  • "In my eyes, when you reach an agreement to allow a player to go - for a loan period or on a permanent transfer - he should be allowed to play.
  • "I don't see it as a healthy way to treat a loan player in not allowing them to play against a parent club.
  • "If you make a decision to allow a player to go, it's because for that season, for whatever reason, everyone is happy to see the player at another club.
  • "I think the fairest way is to see what we've seen in the European competitions, and see a player fully focused on the team that they are playing for, and then at the end of the season, it will be a matter of reassessing the situation."

Everton manager thinks that Liverpool's progress this season has been good for the city and helped spur his team to reach a higher level.

Even though some Evertonians would take a defeat on Saturday if it damaged their neighbours' title chances - a fact that defender Sylvain Distin admitted has surprised him - Martinez insists his team will give their all.

"We're not going out on the pitch to do anyone a favour," Martinez said. "We're going out on the pitch to make sure we perform as well as we can.

"I've always felt that the relationship between the two clubs in the city, over many years, has had some incredible chapters. This would be another fascinating chapter.

"But I don't think there's any doubt about the integrity of our club towards the league. We are a team who want to win every single game that we go into.

"We're looking at ourselves. They are precious points for us. We can't afford not to give everything we've got for every point we have left to play for.

"Helping other teams is not the way we do our work. We just focus on trying to win for ourselves and on having high standards in every game we go into."

Everton, who go into the weekend's matches in fifth place, need a point to ensure qualification for next season's Europa League.

Defeat would end any mathematical chance of making the Champions League, although even a win will not keep alive those hopes if fourth-placed Arsenal beat West Brom at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday.

Martinez added: "It's fair to say that we're very excited about our team and our performances. I don't think we're in a season where we're playing for nothing and just making up the numbers.

"If we were, then you could maybe come up with a way of seeing the game as one where you're looking elsewhere.

"We're not that sort of club. This season has been phenomenal in terms of the way we've performed. If the game adds some spice in terms of the twists and turns in the title race, so be it.

"It's important that we are as good as we can be this weekend, because we are facing a phenomenal football team, and I think the fans understand that. That's what the fans want - to be proud of the performance of the team."

Martinez, though, feels that a strong Liverpool side is a good thing for the city.

He said: "You need that rivalry to be as strong as it can be, and you need to push each other to achieve perfection in that respect.

"That's something that both clubs welcome. The city as a whole needs to have that competitive edge and fight to be the best that we can aspire to be. We welcome that. And both teams will benefit from those standards."

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