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Arsenal (A) Sun 1 Mar 2015, 14:05, Barclays Premier League

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

While several Everton players teeter on the brink of suspension, Phil Jagielka has no such concerns heading into the forthcoming flurry of festive fixtures.
Indeed, the Blues skipper has rarely had to contemplate triggering a one-match ban in his entire career.
James McCarthy sat out last weekend's win over Fulham after accumulating five yellow cards - and Gareth Barry, Ross Barkley and Tim Howard are all a caution away from the same fate before the New Year amnesty.
But with no bookings to his name in 18 games this season - and just 11 yellow cards during a six-year Goodison spell -  the Club captain is leading by example.
That almost spotless form backdates through his professional career to his time with Sheffield United and also on to the international scene with England, while his two career dismissals – both with the Blades - were later rescinded on review.
And asked about his sparkling record, the 31-year-old said: "It’s a case of deciding when and when not to go for the ball.
“You need to impose yourself on the game, but at the same time that doesn’t mean going into the back of a striker or midfielder and giving silly free-kicks away.
“It’s not that I don’t tackle but to a certain extent it’s difficult these days to play with a yellow card on your head, especially at the back with the pace of the game - it can be so hectic.
“So I prefer not to get booked. Then at least if something does go wrong during a game and you do have to make a borderline challenge, at least you have ‘one life’ left, so to speak.”
Jagielka's fellow centre-back Sylvain Distin has amassed just two cautions this term, the same as last year's total - making their partnership arguably the cleanest in the Premier League.
“We talk about that a lot and I don’t think Sylvain gets booked much either,” said the England international.
“Sylv’s a big strong boy too, so it’s about timing, and knowing how hard to go in too.
“The way the game is these days, it doesn’t take a lot to get a booking. You just need to use your head.
“I take a little bit of pride in it and I take a bit of stick as well when the lads rib me for not getting so many bookings.
“It was something the previous manager worked on, and this manager is also keen to avoid us giving away set-pieces – especially on the edge of the area.
“If you do give away a lot of those, it’s the area on the pitch where a defender usually get booked.”
Tickets to see Jagielka and Everton in Boxing Day action against Sunderland are on sale now. Click here to book online.

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