• Premier League

Arteta backs Fellaini to fire Everton into the top four

ESPN staff
November 30, 2012
Marouane Fellaini has been important for Everton this season © PA Photos

Mikel Arteta has backed his former team-mate Marouane Fellaini to continue Everton's surge into the Premier League top four.

Fellaini, 25, scored the equaliser for Everton in their 1-1 draw with Arsenal on Wednesday night, helping the Toffees maintain the pace with their rivals for a Champions League spot.

The pair combined in the midfield at Goodison Park before the Spaniard moved to the Gunners last year and Arteta admits the midweek clash gave him a strong indication of Fellaini's talent.

"I think it is much more difficult to play against him when he is playing in that forward position around the box," Arteta said. "He creates a lot of problems, he uses his size well and he is a threat around the goal, as you can see from his goals.

"For me, he is much more efficient playing there than when he is deeper. I have seen a tremendous improvement in him, especially in that position. He is one of the most difficult midfielders to play against because of his size. You don't normally come up against players like that in that position."

Everton sits one point above Arsenal in sixth place after Tottenham moved up two spots with their win over Liverpool.

With only seven points separating third-placed Chelsea and West Ham in tenth, Arteta believes the European qualification spots are up for grabs and Everton are potential challengers.

"Tottenham are challenging now, West Brom lost [at Swansea] but have been doing really well and I think Everton have got a good chance if they keep everyone fit," he said. "I think the first 11-12 is really strong and they have started the season well, which I know from my time there is not normal. In the long run they will be there."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.