Newcastle United can still catch Everton believes Vurnon Anita

Vurnon Anita believes Newcastle United can still catch Everton in this season’s Premier League – if they win at Southampton on Saturday

Paul Thomas/Getty Images Vurnon Anita of Newcastle United
Vurnon Anita of Newcastle United

The Toffees outclassed the Magpies in Tuesday’s 3-0 win. And while some drew the inevitable conclusion that Roberto Martinez’s team are pulling away from Newcastle, Anita is not one of them.

Sixth-placed Everton are 11 points ahead of Newcastle with seven games to play this season.

“I don’t think you can say that Everton are moving away from us,” said the Dutch midfielder. “We have been doing well this season and are still playing for a lot of things.

“Saturday is an important game for us against Southampton because they are very close to us in the table and the result might help decide which of the two teams finishes higher at the end of the season. It is going to be an important game for us, and the six other games all have something on them as well.”

Everton were impressive as they kept up the chase on wavering Arsenal, but Anita had no worries about his own side’s performance.

“I don’t think we did an awful lot wrong, but Everton were just very good on the night,” he said. “They took their chances and we didn’t, that was the main difference.

“Being clinical can make a big difference in matches like this. They created a couple of chances and scored, we created a couple of chances and missed – that was the story of the game really. I was a part of that as well.

“We’ve been creating chances in our last couple of games, it’s just that not enough of them having been going on. It is good that we are creating the chances, and that’s a positive point for us. But we must work on the finishing because we cannot afford to keep passing up decent chances.

“Everton are a strong team, but I do not think there is a lot between us. They keep the ball well and are a strong team, but they didn’t really create a lot of chances to score. They just took the ones that came their way. (Ross) Barkley looks like he is a good player. He scored a very good goal.”

Newcastle were playing with two on-loan strikers in Loic Remy and Luuk de Jong, so serious business will need to be done in the transfer market this summer. Anita is adamant his team-mates must not be distracted by that, but thinks that – unlike Remy – De Jong will probably stay long-term.

“It is still too early to start thinking about the summer and what might happen there,” he said. “As players, none of us are doing that. We have to stay focused on the games that are left, and try to win as many as we can.

“Everybody knows that Loic is very important for us. He makes scoring goals look very easy, and when you lose a player like that for whatever reason, you are always going to be a bit disappointed. But that is not to say that we cannot score goals if Loic is not in the side. I should have scored against Everton myself. It was a fairly easy opportunity to score, and things might have been different if it had gone in.

“Luuk is working very hard to keep the ball and link up play. That is a very important part of the job that he is being asked to perform, and I think he has been doing it well. Unfortunately, the balls haven’t really fallen for him to have a lot of chances, but I am sure they will come before the end of the season and hopefully he will take them. He is settling in well.

“I think Luuk wants to stay beyond the end of the season, and I hope that happens. He is a very good player, and I think he wants to show everyone that.

“He came in January, and right from the start, he has been doing everything he can to prove himself here at Newcastle.

“It would be good for everybody if he could stay past the end of his deal on loan.”

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