Everton manager Roberto Martinez blamed his side’s 1-1 draw with Hull City on fatigue.
“There were a few tired legs,” Martinez said.
“The amount of games has been incredible. It’s different to play a role where you are sitting in deep and defending you can cope with it a lot better than when you have to be expansive and use a lot of energy to break a team down.
“When you look at the stats and see the opposition have just one shot on target and get something out of the game, it’s frustrating. But I couldn’t be happier with the character of my players, they gave everything they had.”
Everton enjoyed a strong first half performance where they linked up well in the offensive third and were unfortunate not to score more than once. The goal they did get was one to admire, Romelu Lukaku flicking on a long ball to Kevin Mirallas who dribbled to the by-line before finding his countrymate to slam home from 8 yards out.
But the level dropped substantially in the second half and Hull manager Steve Bruce smelled blood, inserting Sone Aluko for Mo Diame and the former finding the back of the net within minutes. It was punishment for a slack effort and one the Toffees thought they could get away with in front of their home crowd. But four matches in 10 days caught up with the Toffees and they were justifiably punished, much to the fans’ dismay.
“The expectations are huge and rightly so,” Martinez said of the fans. “The fans have been magnificent. After such a dominant first half you expect the points to be in the bag and all of a sudden you lose two points and that’s a really hurtful action, so you can understand the fans reacting like that.
“We know the style of football we want to play and it’s been very successful so we won’t change that. It’s important when you want to play a certain way that you are full of energy, but we couldn’t show that today.”
And yet despite grueling schedule and acknowledgement of tired legs, Martinez played a nearly identical starting lineup to Sunday’s loss at Spurs, with only Samuel Eto’o getting a rest in favor of Leon Osman. Everton will need to rest up before their next match, a Saturday clash with Manchester City at the Etihad.