Jags Aims To Steal A March
Blues looking to take charge in race for European qualification.
Phil Jagielka believes Sunday’s trip to Tottenham presents an opportunity to lay down a marker as the race for European qualification intensifies.
The Blues can widen the gap between themselves and Spurs to four points with a maximum haul at White Hart Lane.
There is even the opportunity to leapfrog fourth-placed Liverpool in the table if Arsenal win at Anfield on Saturday.
But Jagielka says that no matter what the outcome is on Sunday, there will be plenty more twists and turns in the final third of the season with so many high-profile games still to take place.
Everton entertain Arsenal, Manchester United and Manchester City in the run-in, while Tottenham face Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in March.
As well as welcoming Spurs and Arsenal to Anfield, Liverpool are due to host Manchester City.
“We’ll be saying that about quite a lot of games throughout the second half of the season because so many teams are in the mix,” Jagielka told evertontv when quizzed about the magnitude of this Sunday’s game.
“Pretty much every weekend somebody is going to drop points because they are playing against another team who is alongside them.
“That’s the best thing about the remaining part of the season, that not only our games will matter but so will others.
“Hopefully it’s going to set up an exciting end to the season.”
The early-season gloom around White Hart Lane seems to have lifted since Tim Sherwood replaced Andre Villas-Boas in December.
Sherwood has brought Emmanuel Adebayor back in from the cold and has largely deployed two strikers in most of Tottenham’s games since stepping up to the position of first-team coach.
Spurs were thumped 5-1 at home by Manchester City last time out at White Hart Lane, though they previously beat Southampton, Manchester United, Crystal Palace and Swansea in the two months since his appointment.
This turnaround in mood and results has not gone unnoticed by Jagielka.
“He [Sherwood] has gone out and tried to put a few more attacking players out there, whether that’s because of the squad he has got to choose from or his mentality,” explained the Blues skipper.
“Obviously he knows a lot more about Spurs’ fanbase and what they want than me, and prior to the Manchester City game they were flying and had some great results.”
Jagielka’s last goal for Everton was in the 2-2 draw at Tottenham in April.
“I got a piggy back off Jan Vertonghen and I managed to nod one down,” he modestly recalled. "It would have been nice to have come away with the three points.
“I hope [another goal is not far away] and I think the manager does as well! I’m getting close but hopefully I’ll save mine for when we need them the most.”
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