• Premier League

Jagielka defends Everton approach

ESPN staff
October 31, 2012
Everton came back from two goals behind to draw with Liverpool on Sunday © PA Photos

Phil Jagielka has defended Everton's playing style after criticism from Steven Gerrard that they are a "very direct" team who are "similar to Stoke".

Gerrard, the Liverpool captain, made the remarks following Sunday's Merseyside derby at Goodison Park, which finished 2-2 with a Luis Suarez 'winner' deep into stoppage time disallowed due to an incorrect offside flag. Gerrard has subsequently moved to take some of the sting out of the barbs.

Despite Gerrard's comments, match stats show that Liverpool played more long balls in the match - 16.6% compared to 13.8% by the Toffees - and completed 261 passes (71.7%) to Everton's 361 (74.7%). Everton had 56% of possession, and 16 shots on goal compared to Liverpool's 13.

Now centre-back Jagielka has answered his England skipper, saying in the Guardian: "If Stevie says we are a long-ball team then I'm not going to deny the fact that we play long balls. Do we play them for the full 90 minutes? No. But we play quite direct.

"Who wouldn't when you have someone in form like Marouane Fellaini, who can bring the ball down for fun, and [then] we start creating things from there? Why wouldn't you do that? We don't believe in passing it around for half an hour for the sake of it.

"If we can put the ball forward and cause them trouble then let's cause them as much trouble as possible. We won't change the way we play. We won't start to look to put in a thousand passes a game. If we need to play forward to Felli to create chances, or to Nikica Jelavic or to Victor Anichebe, then guess what? That's what we'll do.

"I suppose it's a backhanded compliment. Stevie must have thought Liverpool were in a game to come out with such comments. It makes you chuckle, but if Stevie is saying things like that, there must be a reason behind it - which must be that we are doing something well."

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