Arteta eyes the joy of six
Playmaker Mikel Arteta believes Everton will need to win six of their remaining eight games to claim a place in Europe. The Spaniard was on target as the Toffees maintained their late charge for a qualifying spot with a 2-0 win over Bolton Wanderers at Goodison Park yesterday.
Victory was the club's seventh in succession at home in the Barclays Premier League and lifted them up to eighth, but Arteta knows they cannot afford to let the momentum slip. Everton are still playing catch-up after a poor start to the season in which they won only four of their first 18 games.
Arteta said: "I think we are right in the mix at the moment and we have had some good results for us this weekend. We are really pleased. I think we are showing that desire.
"You can't always be really pretty and do everything nicely - the most important thing was to get the points and another win at home. But I think we need to win another six games. That is really tough, but we want to get into the mix."
Everton had to wait until 18 minutes from time to make the breakthrough against a determined Bolton side. The Merseysiders had taken the ascendancy in the second half after a scrappy first period, but the turning point did not come until last man Gretar Steinsson was sent off for bringing down Ayegbeni Yakubu.
Arteta then stepped up to clip home a sweet free-kick and Steven Pienaar made sure of the win with a second goal after 89 minutes. Arteta felt Everton could be pleased with the way they ground out the result.
The 28-year-old said: "I knew it was going to be hard - Bolton are a really strong side and physically they are hard to handle. There were some moments we had to be tough and we did it, but when we needed to play some football we did that as well.
"It was a mix, but if we had been unable to compete physically against them, it would have been really tough to win it. The free-kick was a key moment because, with ten men, scoring made the game much easier. We then scored a second and the game was over."
Everton have lost just twice in their last 16 games and such form suggests their position might have been much healthier had they not been ravaged by injuries early in the campaign. Arteta himself only returned to action in January after 11 months on the sidelines with a serious knee injury, but has now scored three in his last three games.
"I am really pleased and I just want to keep doing it, if it helps the team get points," he said. "My knee feels great, I can't feel anything. I am getting my rhythm and feel quicker every game. I am more confident and hopefully I will keep going."
Pressure continues for Bolton
Bolton had gone into the game confident after winning three of their previous four to pull away from the relegation zone. But with just eight points separating them from the bottom three, Owen Coyle's men cannot yet afford to rest easy. Coyle at least felt his side's performance further underlined their progress since he took charge in January.
Coyle said: "I've been delighted from day one with how we're going along and what we're offering to the game. We're looking to improve all the time and we've shown different dimensions to our play.
"We're coming along nicely - it shows how far we've come that we're leaving Goodison disappointed. In the short term, we need to stay in the league and then look to put our own flavour to it in the summer," he said.
"I was delighted with the application and effort the lads showed and on another day we would certainly have had a point."