Roberto Martinez is hoping to salvage Everton’s horrible season and finish on a high.
Inconsistency has seen Everton grab nine wins from 32 games and sit in the bottom half of the table.
A run to the FA Cup semi-final has offered some respite to Martinez, who has otherwise come under increasing pressure, with Wednesday’s goalless draw at Crystal Palace, in which James McCarthy was sent off, doing little to placate the fans.
But the Spaniard believes the remaining games could yet provide a happy ending to what has been a dull term in the league.
“Every season boils down to these final games and we can have a really strong ending,” he said. “We are right in the middle of the most testing period.
“Five games in two weeks has always been an interesting period. We need to make sure we can display again the good attributes we had against Crystal Palace.
“With one man down it became more than a footballing exercise. It was about the togetherness, the resilience and all the aspects that help you as a team.
“It doesn’t matter what level, everything is about working with a group and winning the next game. It could be promotion, like my time at Swansea, or relegation, like at Wigan.
“It’s the pressure that you put yourself under. It’s always the target to finish higher than last year.”
Everton won the reverse fixture at St Mary’s Stadium 3-0 in August thanks to a Romelu Lukaku double and a late strike from Ross Barkley.