Duo Plot Clean-Up
Jagielka and Baines target more clean sheets.
Below is part two of a four-part series featuring the Blues’ England duo – Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka – that is running this week on evertonfc.com. Today we discuss how they intend to improve Everton’s defensive fortunes. Friday will see them preview the trip to Chelsea before the fourth and concluding segment (Saturday) will feature Jagielka on Baines, and Baines on Jagielka.
Everton's England duo are plotting a clean-up operation.
The Blues have managed just one clean sheet from their eight outings this season in all competitions. It is a statistic that both Leighton Baines and Phil Jagielka are keen to improve.
Jagielka told evertontv: "There have not been too many. The gaffer has been working on it and he will be as frustrated as anyone being a defender.
“And we all know if we can start keeping clean sheets then with the strikers scoring the odd goal then we are going to start picking up more three points."
The side's clean sheet record is identical to the corresponding point of the 2010/11 campaign, although Everton have gathered four more points in the Premier League this term.
The fact a shortage of clean sheets in the current campaign has not impacted as significantly on the side's points haul backs up Baines' assertion that Premier League teams as a whole are finding it tougher to prevent a breach of defences.
He said: "If you look at results in the league this season then there have been a lot of games with four, five or six goals and it is exciting football to watch but there are those of us working hard to keep it tight at the other end and we would love to keep a few more in the coming games.
"It seems that way. I don’t know what the numbers and figures are this season compared to past seasons but there seems to be more goals this year.
"I don’t know if the games are more open but it does seem harder to keep clean sheets.
"Obviously it is something for us to work on and try to get right. A clean sheet always gives you a great chance of winning a game, but as we have seen this season, it is not that easy to do."
After last season's stuttering start, the shutouts began to increase - with four from five matches garnered against Fulham, Birmingham, Liverpool and Stoke.
Jagielka points out that improving the 'goals conceded' column this time around will be achieved through even more hard graft on the training ground - with his sights set on that graft paying dividends at Stamford Bridge this weekend.
Jagielka added: "You need a little bit of luck here and there but as a defensive unit we can improve a little bit in different areas.
"It does not happen overnight, but hopefully we can start the process this weekend and get a good result at Chelsea."