Jags Calls On Blues To Keep Up Quality Work

Phil Jagielka insists Everton’s display against Brighton & Hove Albion provides a platform for how the Toffees can perform for the rest of the season.

The Blues captain returned to the starting XI for Saturday's impressive 2-0 win at Goodison Park after recovering from injury, his first match since the 2-1 home success against Leicester on 31 January.

The defender epitomised Everton's desire and intent from the first whistle at the weekend and formed a rock-solid centre-back partnership with Michael Keane to thwart a Brighton team which came into the clash on a seven-match unbeaten run, scoring 15 goals in the process.

While Keane’s passing accuracy of 88.1 per cent highlighted his quality in possession, Jagielka’s ability to attack the ball was evidenced by him winning 75 per cent of his aerial duels. The 35-year-old also made the most clearances (six) of any Everton player.

After the Toffees took their home form to 20 points from the past 27 available since the eve of Sam Allardyce's appointment as manager, Jagielka called on his teammates to maintain that quality for the final eight matches of the Premier League season.

“They were a big team – we had to defend the box quite well but thankfully we did that from start to finish and from front to back,” Jagielka told evertontv.

“We got a bit of momentum during the game. We got the fans involved – putting Brighton under pressure, getting a lot of corners, having a few shots on target and winning a few tackles.

“This is what we, as players, must look to do in every single game.”

Jagielka admits the squad were under no illusions as to the importance of Saturday’s game, reiterating Allardyce's pre-match thoughts that victory would allow Everton to look up the table. 

The Blues' display against Brighton boasted many highlights, including the return of Jagielka's fellow 10-year Club servant Leighton Baines. Another was striker Cenk Tosun firing home 14 minutes from time, his fierce strike rifling in off the crossbar for his first Goodison goal.

Jagielka believes the Turkey international’s form can be key as the ninth-placed Blues aim to make further progress. 

“It was fantastic for Cenk to get his second goal in two games,” added the skipper. “Hopefully we can get a bit of momentum now. We need to finish the season off as strong as possible and put down a few markers for the start of next season.”

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