EVERTON boss Roberto Martinez has warned his men to prepare to deal with Sunderland’s “huge work-rate” in Saturday’s crunch Premier League clash.
The Wearsiders head to Goodison Park looking for points to climb out of the drop zone, with games fast running out.
But Everton are also keen on securing a victory to maintain their good run of home form, with a potential rise to ninth place their target for the final three games of their campaign.
Martinez is aware of Sunderland’s strengths, having studied the Black Cats’ impressive 2-1 home victory over Southampton last weekend.
The Spaniard, looking for a repeat of the Toffees’ last Goodison outing against Manchester United, said: “It is very similar in that this is the peak time of Sunderland’s season. Their performance against Southampton was one of full concentration and full intensity.
“They play with a lot of attacking players on the pitch and their work-rate is huge.
“We will have to be at our very best from the beginning to match that enthusiasm and attacking play.
“On top of that, we have to put things right after a disappointing result at the weekend (Everton’s 3-2 defeat at Aston Villa), so we have our own issues.”
Everton are 11th in the table going into their final three matches – but are targeting overtaking West Ham and Stoke, who are both only three points better off.
“We have two games left at Goodison and we need to match the level we showed against Manchester United (in their stunning 3-0 success),” added Martinez, on evertonfc.com.
“Playing at Goodison Park is always a real important focus for us. Playing West Ham (away, next weekend) is a direct rival in the league and we have faced them twice in the cup as well as at home in the league. It will be an interesting encounter.
“The next three games are games we need to enjoy our football and give the fans something to be pleased about.”