WOW. Everton actually won a game this weekend. Not only that, but Everton kept a clean sheet and it was certainly a performance that can change the season as a whole for Everton. The Toffees won the match 1-0, thanks to goal from Romelu Lukaku but it was the defence that gave them all three points. Muhamed Besic and John Stones were to terrific players and kept the defence solid, but it was the skipper who was the player who kept Everton in the game. It was Phil Jagielka that kept them in the match, and here is how he kept the defence solid and gave Everton the three points.
The Toffees had taken the lead after just two minutes, but Palace made a strong response, which forced Everton to defend for most of the half. Jagielka kept Everton in the lead making an incredible goal-line clearance, which turned out to be just about on the line. The Everton skipper ended the first-half with an 83% passing accuracy percentage, made one successful tackle out of two, winning 25% of his aerial duels (1 out of 4) and making 4 interceptions, 7 clearances and a block to keep Everton’s lead intact.
In the second-half, Everton attacked more but the defence was still as solid as the first. Phil Jagielka ended the second-half with a 75% passing accuracy percentage, completing 100% of his tackles and winning 100% of his aerial duels, also making another interceptions, 10 more clearances and another block. The Everton skipper ended the match with an 81% passing accuracy percentage, completing 75% of his tackles (3 out of 4), winning 57% of his aerial duels (4 out of 7), making 5 interceptions, 17 clearances and blocking two shots.
Everton aren’t a team with much ability in the air, Romelu Lukaku being the tallest in the starting line-up today but even he doesn’t use his ability that much. Coming up against Yaya Sanogo and Marouane Chamakh wasn’t going to be an easy task for the defenders (especially in the form they’re in). However, Phil Jagielka was the dominant man in the defence. Phil Jagielka won 57% (4 out of 7) of his aerial duels, which was the most in the Everton side and only Joe Ledley (5) and James McArthur (6) where the two other players on the pitch that had won more.
The Toffees have only conceded 5 goals from headers this season, but they have one of the worst percentages of aerial duels won in the Premier League this season (winning 54% of aerial duels on average). To have somebody as dominant in the air as him today was really important towards the Everton win.
If the league were based on clearances made, Everton would’ve been tenth in the table – having made 774 clearances, prior to the match. After the match, Everton would be sixth in the table – making 832 clearances (mostly made by Phil Jagielka). The skipper had made 17 clearances in the match; nobody in the entire league had made more in the Premier League on Saturday. Some of them were even goal saving, goal-line technology being put to the test by Jagielka’s clearance.
Phil Jagielka was certainly crucial to the victory, not only that clearance but also his defensive actions as a whole. On average, Phil Jagielka makes 12 defensive actions per match (clearances, interceptions & blocks); Sylvain Distin is the only other player who has made more. The amount of clearances Phil Jagielka has made this season is the sixth highest in the league (making 208 clearances). Although Roberto Martinez may prefer a better style of defending, clearances have saved Everton a lot of times this season and the more Jags’ makes the better for the team.
We have seen games this season were Everton’s deep defence has caused problems – Newcastle is a prime example. However today the deep defending worked and worked well, Gareth Barry and Muhamed Besic dropped deeper and Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines didn’t push more forward as they usually do. That left Phil Jagielka with a lot to do at the back, and made Crystal Palace cross a lot more – making 38 in total (which is why Phil Jagielka needed to be so dominant in the air). The deep defence is risky to use, but the Everton team operated as a unit in defence and forced the wingers to cross more. Phil Jagielka’s deep defending caused a lot less back passes in the match, Phil Jagielka making just three in the whole match and all back to Joel Robles. An unusual stat, but a certain positive for Evertonians to look at, as back passing has certainly been a problem this season.
Certainly one of the most satisfying wins of the season, who doesn’t love to see Everton scrap a 1-0 victory away from home? On a serious note, the victory is a massive positive and builds the confidence of the fans and players going into the fixtures ahead. Phil Jagielka, in fairness, hasn’t been at his best at all compared to last and his true ability has been put to the test throughout the campaign, but he was terrific in today’s match. Lets hope he can continue this form.
Up the toffees.
(Stats via: FourFourTwo.com and Squawka).
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