Gylfi Bidding To Be Blues' Set-Piece King

by Paul McNamara
@Everton

Club-record signing Gylfi Sigurdsson is relishing the prospect of being involved in Everton’s Europa League campaign after starring in the competition for Spurs four years ago.

Sigurdsson made his Blues debut off the bench at Manchester City on Monday night, five days after completing his move from Swansea and penning a five-year deal at Goodison Park.

And he could be poised for a second outing in quick succession, when Everton meet Hajduk Split in Croatia in tonight’s Europa League play-off round second-leg tie – with Ronald Koeman's men holding a two-goal advantage from last week's first-leg meeting at Goodison Park.

The 27-year-old arrived on Merseyside amid much fanfare about his set-piece expertise. He has scored seven Premier League free-kicks since 2011/12, more than any other player in the same period.

And the Icelander’s dead-ball artistry fashioned 53 chances on goal for Swansea last term.

Sigurdsson’s former Swans teammate Jack Cork has been quoted saying “there is no luck involved” in the attacker’s set-play success.

“Gylfi spends ages practising,” said now-Burnley midfielder Cork. “He works so hard.”

And Sigurdsson is vowing to continue in the same vein at Everton’s Finch Farm training base, where the Toffees’ goalkeepers might find themselves being asked to put in some overtime by their new colleague.


“I think it is up to them if they want to stay out with me,” Sigurdsson laughed, when asked by evertontv if he would be keeping Jordan Pickford and Co extra busy.

“But, yes, of course, I do like to practice my set-pieces. It is something I enjoy and I am sure the keepers will be happy to stay out!

“I wouldn’t say I work on them every day, because it depends on how many games you are playing and how you feel.

“But during the week you do try to do some extra work... yes, of course.”

Somewhat counter-intuitively, however, Sigurdsson is hoping his training ground rituals are disrupted this season.

If he is having to restrict his free-kick drills, after all, it would likely be a result of Everton advancing in the Europa League and managing the hectic schedule such progress would demand.

In 2012/13 Sigurdsson scored three times – including in a victory over Italian three-times UEFA Cup winners Inter Milan – as Tottenham reached the quarter-finals of the competition, overcoming the likes of Lazio, Lyon and Panathinaikos en route to a last-eight clash with Basel.

Sigurdsson was the only Spurs player to convert his penalty as the north Londoners lost a shootout against the Swiss team, after the sides couldn’t be separated over two legs.

He was involved in the Europa League again the following season, when Tottenham progressed to the last-16 before being bundled out by two-time European champions Benfica.

“I played in the Europa League with Tottenham and really enjoyed it,” said Sigurdsson, who has been capped 50 times by his country.

“We played in some decent stadiums. As a footballer, you want to play as many games as possible.

“There is nothing wrong with playing two games a week.

“First of all, though, we need to get through the play-off and then the group stage of the competition. Then as things progress, it gets better – bigger teams join from the Champions League.

“It would be nice to go far in this competition but, of course, we want to do well in the Premier League, too.

“We want to keep improving and that is why the Club is building such a strong squad.”

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