Speaking ahead of Saturday’s Barclays Asia trophy final against Arsenal in Singapore, Everton manager Roberto Martinez says that he is pleasantly surprised by the progress of some of the younger players in the squad.

“The likes of Tyias Browning and Brendan Galloway have been working hard behind the scenes and that’s pleasing for everyone at the club because they need to be ready when their time comes. It brings us extra pride when a youngster breaks through and that’s what we are working towards at this club.”


The duo were part of an experienced starting 11 that included the likes of Tim Howard, Phil Jagielka and Romelu Lukaku during Wednesday’s penalty shootout win against Stoke City, but Martinez says he will make plenty of changes for the final on Saturday.

“There will be plenty of rotation because we have a big squad and pretty much every first team player will feature in this game.”


Deulofeu To Be Settled In

One of those likely to feature in Saturday’s final against the Gunners is 21-year-old winger Gerard Deulofeu, who signed a permanent deal with Everton this summer after spending the 2013/2014 campaign on loan with the Toffees.


The Spaniard scored three times in 25 appearances whilst on loan at the club, most notably a 86th minute equalizer against Saturday’s opponents Arsenal in a 1-1 draw in December 2013.

“We are hoping to get Gerard fit in time for the season because he hasn’t played since January and that makes his job tougher than other players in the squad.”

However Roberto is confident that he can settle in fast with the right attitude and focus as well as help from his teammates. “Gerard needs to be nurtured and given the right amount of playing time. Sprinters like him are specialized players who need to be integrated slowly into the team.”


Accompanying Roberto at his press conference was fullback Seamus Coleman, who was thrilled to have Deulofeu back at the club. “Gerard excites us and he excites the fans. I am looking forward to playing with him.”

Seamus didn’t feature on Wednesday against Stoke City but says he has been enjoying the support from the local fans here. “It’s great to see how much the Premier League means to the local fans, some can’t travel to England to watch matches yet come across as very passionate and knowledgeable.”


Coy On Transfers

Roberto Martinez declined to offer his comments on the transfer rumours going around but was fast to quash talks about a reported deal with Manchester United for centre-back Jonny Evans. “ I am not going to be commenting publicly on any of the names that have been shared around but I can tell you clearly that there is nothing true in that story.”


Over at Arsene Wenger’s press conference, the Arsenal boss was relatively quiet on his transfer dealings but confirmed that a loan deal has been agreed with Ajax for striker Yaya Sanogo. “ The paperwork is not finished yet but he will join Ajax and gain vital champions league experience at a top club.”


Gunners Ready To Rotate, Adapt and Challenge.

Arsene Wenger also believes that his current is ready to challenge for the Premier League title in the coming season. “ It’s our target and we have a good chance in a competitive league. We finished third and won the FA cup last season and that shows we are not far off, especially due to the cohesive group of players we have.”


Part of Arsenal’s cohesive squad are youngsters Hector Bellerin and Francis Coquelin who played major roles in the club’s FA cup success last season, and it will be interesting to see if they can keep their place in the starting 11, especially with more experienced players such as Mathieu Debuchy and Jack Wilshere now fit and raring to go.

Arsene Wenger says there will be plenty of rotation within the squad and those who didn’t feature on Wednesday will start. “There is every possibility the likes of Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud will play up front tomorrow.”

Having watched the first half of Everton’s win against Stoke on Wednesday, Wenger believes the physicality was equivalent to that of a Premier League match and expects the same in Saturday’s final.


You can catch Arsenal take on Everton in this year’s Barclays Asia Trophy Final on Saturday at the National Stadium. Kickoff is at 8.30 pm. The Third Place playoff between the Singapore Selection XI and Stoke City starts at 6 pm.


Photos courtesy of Ngau Kai Yan