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Southampton (A) Sat 20 Dec 2014, 15:00, Barclays Premier League

Jags And Distin Are Our Rock

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

Roberto Martinez has hailed the way his central defenders have embraced Everton's new style of football.

Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin have earned special praise for the way they have taken responsibility for orchestrating Martinez's favoured passing game.

And the Blues boss said: "They have been incredible. One thing is having continuity in the personnel but another is adjusting to a different way of playing and taking responsibility of starting the play.

"I think Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin have been a solid rock of this squad for a long time and this season more than ever they have embraced the change in how we start the play. They have been incredible ambassadors of this project."

Sylvain Distin

As well as starting Everton's attacking moves, the pair are obviously key in keeping the opposition out - and have already presided over three league clean sheets in a row earlier this season.

But Martinez expects them to be tested to the full on Saturday when Everton visit the Etihad Stadium.

He continued: "When you play against Manchester City, you know you have to defend.

"Against Manchester City, to be successful you have to be good in different aspects of your performance, particularly keeping hold of the ball because at the Etihad you can’t just defend for 90 minutes.

"You have to be able to cause a threat in the final third, so you need a perfect performance. I do feel that we have the experience to be perfect at this event but make no mistake about it we will have to defend well to beat Manchester City. There will need to be concentration, focus and an intensity."

Everton are next in action at Goodison Park on Saturday, 19 October when Hull are the visitors. Click here to buy tickets now.

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