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Jags: Make Christmas Count

by Matthew Gamble @efc_mattgamble

Everton v Swansea

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Phil Jagielka has urged Everton to make the most of their two home games over Christmas.

While the Blues are set to entertain Sunderland and then Southampton in their next two encounters, some of the other teams at the top of the Barclays Premier League table will face off against each other.

Manchester City play Liverpool on Boxing Day, with Chelsea also playing the current league leaders and Arsenal having to travel to Newcastle.

Jagielka told evertontv: "Arsenal had a good start but it's going to be tight for the rest of the season.

"That's why it's important to pick up as many points as you can over the festive period when other teams are playing against each other."

Everton's Boxing Day clash with the rock-bottom Black Cats would appear to be a home banker - but Jagielka insists the Wearsiders' position belies their threat.

He added: "They have had a massive change of style (under Gus Poyet) and they have been unfortunate not to pick up wins or even draws. They will be looking to do that over Christmas.

"But we are quite confident at home and we are playing some decent stuff ourselves."

And the Everton skipper is aware that he has two in-form teammates ready to continue their assault on the top flight this term.

"Seamus doesn't take that many long-range shots on and doesn't score too many of them, even in training," laughed Jagielka in reference to the full-back's screamer at Swansea.

"But with the way we play, the lads are given more freedom to go higher up the pitch. Seamus has had two tap-ins at the far post and Bryan Oviedo had one at Man United as well.

"Ross Barkley's goal as well - he has got so many attributes to his game. You have got to be a certain type of player to do that.

"If you were looking for the perfect package, he's pretty close. He just needs to learn a bit more about his game and playing in the role he is in at the moment.

"If you are going to tune in and watch a young lad play, Ross is going to give you glimpses of the reasons why you watch football; he goes past people, he shoots and he is exciting to watch."

Tickets for Everton's FA Cup meeting with QPR are now on general sale. To buy, click here or call 0871 663 1878.

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