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 By Mike Whalley

Tim Howard hails 'signature' victory

Arsene Wenger admits big away defeats have affected his side's confidence after Arsenal suffered a 3-0 defeat to top four rivals Everton.

Tim Howard says that Everton’s belief in their Champions League qualification chances has been boosted by a “blockbuster” of a victory over Arsenal.

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The United States international played his part on a 3-0 win that put Roberto Martinez’s side within reach of a top-four Premier League spot.

Everton remain fifth after recording a sixth successive league victory on Sunday, but are just a point behind the Gunners in fourth, and have a game in hand.

Goalkeeper Howard hailed the win over Arsenal as one of the best Everton displays he has seen since moving to Goodison Park from Manchester United in 2006.

The 35-year-old told Everton’s official website: “It was one of the signature performances since I have been here at Everton.

“The way we controlled the game, scored the goals and kept it clean at the back, I thought it was a brilliant performance.

“The fans were vocal. They were up for it. They knew what it meant going into the game and if we could take three points then we would be hot on their tails.

“They have waited all season for a blockbuster performance -- they have got a few -- but this was definitely the one.”

Everton last qualified for the Champions League in 2005, but Howard believes they can secure a top-four finish this season too.

He said: “We would like to think so. We have to believe that because we are running out of games.”

Meanwhile, Leon Osman is set to be fit to aid Everton’s Champions League push at Sunderland on Saturday despite suffering a head injury during the win over Arsenal, the club have said.

The midfielder was forced off in the ninth minute of his side’s 3-0 victory after a collision with Gunners full-back Bacary Sagna.

Osman, who was booked for the challenge, suffered concussion after Sagna landed on top of him, and also needed five stitches to repair a cut above his eye.

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