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Phil Jagielka has taken a pot-shot back at Liverpool following Steven Gerrard's "long-ball" jibe.
Everton and England defender Jagielka laughed off Anfield skipper Gerrard's suggestions that the Goodison outfit play like Stoke, by pointedly replying: "At least we don't pass around for half an hour for the sake of it."
His comment is a reference to Liverpool's tendency under new boss Brendan Rodgers to keep possession for long periods without threatening the opponents' goal.
There has been some serious needle between the two Merseyside clubs in the days before and after Sunday's derby, with tensions further heightened by Gerrard's comments that labelled his team's rivals 'route one' merchants.
That has needled many around Goodison, not least because they believe they have been much the stronger team on Merseyside so far this season.
And the stats back up Jagielka's assertion that Everton are far more productive going forward - they have scored 17 Premier League goals, in comparison to the Reds' haul of 12.
That added weight to Jagielka's poke back at his international captain, when he insisted: "If Stevie says we are a long-ball team, then I'm not going to deny the fact.
"But do we play them for the full 90 minutes? No. When you have someone like Marouane Fellaini who can who can bring the ball down for fun and we start creating things from there, why wouldn't you do that?
"We don't believe in passing it around for half an hour for the sake of it.
"We won't start to look to put in a thousand passes a game. If we need to play forward to Felli to create chances, or to Nikica Jelavic or to Victor Anichebe, then guess what? That's what we'll do."
There has been some surprising animosity surrounding the derby ever since Blues boss David Moyes took a massive swipe at Luis Suarez.
But Jagielka reckons that much of the criticism from Liverpool has been inspired by a fear of their neighbours, and jealousy of their inspired start to the campaign, that has seen Everton rise to fifth in the table.
"I suppose you could say it's a back-handed compliment. Stevie must have thought that Liverpool were in a game to come out which such comments," he added.
"It does make you chuckle, but if Stevie is saying things like that, there must be a reason behind it - that must be that we are doing something well."
Jagielka's response was to use humour to underline the fact that Liverpool have had real struggles posing a real goal threat going forward so far this season.
But underneath the jokes, there is a hurt at Goodison that some of their talented stars, such as Leighton Baines - another England international - Leon Osman and talented Belgian star Kevin Mirallas have been so easily dismissed.
And the tough-talking as well as tough-tackling defender added: "It's a little bit disrespectful to players like Bainesy, Ossie and Kevin who are players who do create a lot of chances for us.
"This season is the most goals we have scored, the most chances we have created, and in the derby we had more possession and more chances.
"That's why we can take it with a pinch of salt."
Phil Jagielka has hit back at Steven Gerrard’s assertion that Everton are 'just like Stoke' with his own barbed comments about Liverpool’s style of play.
Everton were incensed by Gerrard’s comments following Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Goodison Park, particularly as stats for the game showed they made more passes (448 to 314) and enjoyed more possession (56 per cent to 44 per cent) than Liverpool.
While Jagielka was happy to admit Everton could be direct when they want to be, to utilise the strength and aerial prowess of Marouane Fellaini, he suggested that Liverpool’s methods of always wanting to play on the ground are flawed.
'If Stevie says we are a long ball team then I’m not going to deny the fact that we play long balls,’ said Jagielka. ‘Do we play them for the full 90 minutes? No. But we play quite direct.
'Who wouldn’t when you have someone in form like Marouane Fellaini, who can bring the ball down for fun and we start creating things from there? Why wouldn’t you do that? We don’t believe in passing it around for half an hour for the sake of it.
'If we can put the ball forward and cause them trouble then let’s cause them as much trouble as possible. We won’t change the way we play. We won’t start to look to put in a thousand passes a game.
'If we need to play forward to Felli to create chances, or to Nikica Jelavic or to Victor Anichebe, then guess what? That’s what we’ll do.’
Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, though, is not someone who will change his philosophy and he has added further spice to the fallout by backing up his captain’s claim that Liverpool have to play in a certain, attractive manner.
He did, however, acknowledge that Everton do have a number of skilful players who have made significant contributions this season.
'I believe there were two different styles,’ said Rodgers. ‘This is a club brought up with a certain way of playing. Its history has been defined by the many great managers who have been here. You have to win games but you have to win games by playing in a certain style.
'It’s the beauty of the Premier League - there are so many diverse ways of working and playing. We play a certain way. If you look at Everton and a number of other teams, they are a bit more direct and then play off the front players.
'But they have players with finesse like Leighton Baines and Leon Osman, who are terrific footballers. For us here at Liverpool, there’s a way in which we play and want to win games. the supporters and the history of the club dictates that.’
PHIL JAGIELKA insists Everton are unconcerned by Steven Gerrard’s claim that they are a long-ball team, and says the Blues will continue to look to play on the front foot.
Gerrard’s comments in the wake of Sunday’s Merseyside derby draw had caused quite a stir among supporters of both clubs. The Liverpool captain had likened Everton’s tactics in the 2-2 draw at Goodison Park to those employed by Stoke City, a side notorious for their robust, direct style of play, and accused them of simply aiming long balls towards the likes of Marouane Fellaini and Nikica Jelavic.
Subsequent statistical analyses seemed to contradict Gerrard’s view somewhat. Everton enjoyed a greater share of possession than their rivals, attempted and completed more passes, and a lesser proportion of those passes were hit long.
Jagielka, though, refused to be drawn into a war of words with his England international colleague.
“It’s not something that particularly bothers us,” said the defender. “I know Stevie well, he’s obviously a proud Liverpudlian, and as captain he has done fantastically well for the club for many years.
“He’s allowed his opinion. We may well play more long balls than Liverpool do, we may play more direct football. But if you look at the possession stats from Sunday, we had more possession than them at the end of the day.
“So for a team that supposedly just gets it and shells it, the stats don’t really add up.”
Jagielka conceded that he could understand Gerrard’s complaints to some extent. Statistics also show that Everton’s total of 252 long balls this season is the third highest in the Premier League.
But the 30-year-old, an ever-present for the Blues this season, said Everton’s eagerness to get the ball forward at times stems from a desire to play their football in the opposition’s half.
“I can see what he means in some respects,” he said. “We do go forward directly at times. But that is because we like to play in the opponent’s half.
“We don’t like to play football for large spells in our own half and be going nowhere, we like to get it forward and cause teams problems.
“The manager would back me up on that. His philosophy is that you can’t score goals in your own half – or not very often anyway! We have our way of playing, and we think it’s been good for us, and will continue to be.”