LIVERPOOL, United Kingdom- The experience, resilience and composure of defensive trio Phil Jagielka, Leighton Baines and Seamus Coleman was key in Everton’s 2-1 victory at Stoke City FC on Saturday, says Sam Allardyce.
The Blues saw off the Potters at the bet365 Stadium to make it back-to-back Premier League victories for Allardyce’s men and move them to within three points of seventh-placed Burnley.
Turkish striker Cenk Tosun hit the headlines after scoring a brace to continue his goalscoring hot streak of four goals in his past three matches. And after keeping a clean sheet in the previous week’s 2-0 success over Brighton & Hove Albion, the Blues’ backline also impressed again to limit Stoke’s attacking threat.
Saturday’s game was the first time Jagielka, Baines and Coleman had started an away game together since the Premier League match at Hull City in December 2016 – and the experience of the trio alongside Michael Keane was vital as the Blues dug in to snatch three points on a bitter, snowy and blustery Staffordshire afternoon.
While Allardyce was keen to praise his defenders for keeping Stoke at bay, he says their quality in possession was also an important factor.
“The experience of those boys gave up very little chances to Stoke,” said the Everton manager. “Keeping them on the field of play is helping us – not only in defending well but also in terms of the way we use the ball, keep the ball and move it forward through midfield. It gives us more opportunities to break the opposition down.”
Jagielka produced another commanding display at the heart of the Everton defence against the Potters on Saturday, the 35-year-old a figure of strength and solidity alongside Keane.
Indeed, Everton have now collected maximum points from each of the past three games the skipper has started.
Baines and Coleman, meanwhile, have both hit the ground running after lengthy spells on sidelines. Coleman’s first-team comeback came against Leicester City on 31 January after 10 months out with a double leg break, while Baines played his first game under Allardyce in the 2-0 win over Brighton having recovered from the calf injury he sustained at Southampton on 26 November.
The value of the full-backs is emphasised by the fact that, over the past three seasons, Everton have averaged 1.7 points when they are both in the side – and 1.2 points when one or both are missing from the starting XI.
Allardyce hopes Jagielka, Baines and Coleman will now have a vital role to play as Everton look ahead to two huge games at Goodison Park. Runaway leaders Manchester City are the first to visit on 31 March before the Merseyside derby on 7 April.
And after two wins on the spin, Allardyce is now looking ahead to the double-header with relish.
“It gives us confidence to believe we can go and get points,” he said. “Two wins in two is very important before those games because we’re going to have to put up huge performances.
“I think that shows the character. For us, it’s a very important victory, a 2-1 win that gives us three points. Now it’s a case of looking at all the plans we’ve got to start putting in place without taking our eye off the ball which is the next two home games coming up.”
-Material used to compile this report sourced from official Everton FC website, read more here