Everton Vs Blackburn Rovers, Sat 16 Apr 2011

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Everton manager David Moyes has ruled out his side's chances of securing a European place.

The Toffees have hit form to lift themselves to seventh in the Barclays Premier League after a largely disappointing campaign but Moyes thinks the Europa League is still out of reach.

Moyes is well aware that a fifth-place finish is likely to be needed to qualify this season and his side are nine points behind Tottenham, currently in that position, having played a game more.

The Scot said: "I don't think we can make Europe. The way it has gone I don't think that's there at all.

"We weren't good enough in the early part of that race so we can't have any complaints about it."

Everton were just three points above the relegation zone at the end of February.

Their upturn in fortunes - the Merseysiders are now unbeaten in six games - has come in spite of a spate of injuries, with key players such as Louis Saha, Tim Cahill, Mikel Arteta and Marouane Fellaini being sidelined.

Moyes has been impressed with his side's response to the adversity.

He said: "In the early part of the season we didn't have injuries.

"We had most people fit but we just didn't get the results.

"It is sort of in reverse order because we have lost a lot of key players but we have been able to grind out some results in recent weeks.

"That is hard to weigh up but there is a resilience amongst the players. They know what is expected at this football club.

"They have dug deep when we haven't, on paper, had the strongest-looking squad.

"Ever since I have been here there has always been a bit of being up against it - whether it be because our neighbours have spent more money or are above us in the league or we are trying to catch somebody to get into a European spot.


"Then obviously the financial situation means we always feel we are behind everyone else.

"But I don't think we act that way. When we cross the white line we go out there, try to be committed and do everything we can to win."

Blackburn need not worry too much about their poor away record according to manager Steve Kean.

Rovers have won only three and lost 11 of their 16 matches away from Ewood Park this season, and the 38 goals they have conceded is more than anyone else in the league.

They remain firmly entrenched in the battle for survival, only three points above the relegation zone, while Everton are top of the form table after taking 14 points from their last six games.

Blackburn did, though, manage a goalless draw from their last away game at Arsenal two weeks ago despite Steven Nzonzi's red card, and it is that performance that has given Kean such cause for optimism.

He said: "Away from home we've not been fantastic but we showed in the Arsenal game, when nobody gave us a chance against a team going for the championship, that we can go away from home and we can dig points out.

"We have to have that again when we play Everton. Their form's very good but we can look as recently as our last away game and say that we've done very well.

"If we can take a point at the Emirates then there's no reason we can't take at least a point at Goodison."

The Arsenal result was sandwiched by a late comeback to draw 2-2 against Blackpool and last weekend's 1-1 draw with Birmingham, allowing Rovers to inch away from the drop zone.

Kean said: "Confidence is good. It's only little steps, but over the last three games we're unbeaten. We'd like to take a giant leap and get three points but we're the only team in the bottom half that's gone three games unbeaten.

"We've got a little bit of momentum and we're trying to build on that looking forward to the Everton game."

Blackburn, who have not won since a 2-0 victory over West Brom on January 23, can also look to tomorrow's opponents for inspiration after their sudden upturn in form.

After spending much of the season at the wrong end of the table, the Toffees are now sitting happily in seventh place, and Kean paid tribute to the record of his opposite number, and fellow Glaswegian, David Moyes.

"David's a fantastic manager and what he's done, always stringing results together in the second half of the season, is a good example," added Kean.

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Steven Nzonzi
Blackburn Rovers
Mikel Arteta
Premier League
Marouane Fellaini
Tim Cahill
Louis Saha

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