Belfast Telegraph

Jagielka: We are in a dogfight

Everton captain Phil Jagielka has no doubt the club are now in a relegation battle.

The Toffees, beaten 2-0 at Stoke on Wednesday to leave their record showing just one win in their last 12 Barclays Premier League games and none in their last five, are six points above the drop zone in 14th place with 10 more to play.

Manager Roberto Martinez said after the match at the Britannia Stadium that his side are not too good to go down, but he was also keen to stress they were "not looking down" the table.

When Jagielka was asked if he felt Everton were now in a relegation fight, the England centre-back - quoted by the Liverpool Echo - said: "Yeah, I think so.

"With 10 games to go that is not where you want to be.

"We still have that six point gap but we are not taking anything lightly.

"We have some tough games coming up and we are not where we want to be so need to start winning sooner rather than later."

Everton fans have seen their team lose seven times in that 12-match sequence and some of those in attendance on Wednesday expressed their frustration by booing at the final whistle.

That exasperation was also replicated on social media, with "#MartinezOut" trending on Twitter in the UK shortly after the game, but there were notably plenty of cheers of encouragement when the Toffees were 1-0 down at the interval.

And the manager has emphasised how important he thinks the backing of the fans will be for Everton's prospects during their remaining Premier League fixtures, in which, he says, the Merseyside outfit will "give their lives" to get as many points as possible.

Pressure appears to be building, and Jagielka feels he and his team-mates must step things up to ease it.

"The fans were great (at the Britannia Stadium). It has been a difficult season to watch us because the performances have not been as good as last season (when Everton finished fifth in the Premier League)," the 32-year-old said.

"They are going to vent their frustrations. It is normally the manager that gets it as he is head of the food chain.

"But we as players know we need to buck our ideas up, start performing better and take pressure off him, pressure off ourselves and start getting some more points."

Stoke, whose goals came through a superb Victor Moses header in the 32nd minute and a rebound effort from substitute Mame Biram Diouf six minutes from time, are 14 points ahead of Everton with 42 on the board.

They are up to eighth and look good to better their Premier League club records set last term of a ninth-placed finish and points total of 50.

Wednesday's result was their third win in a row and seventh in their last 11 league games.

On such a roll, it seems in some ways a shame that they are not in action again until 10 days on from the Everton clash.

But midfielder Charlie Adam feels it presents a good opportunity for the Stoke squad in terms of key players working their way back to fitness ahead of the reunion with former Potters boss Tony Pulis when they face West Brom away on March 14.

"The break has come at good time, because we have a few niggling injuries," Adam told Stoke City Player.

"When you are playing well and you are winning, you want to play all the time.

"But for us I think it is a good time - after the 10-day break hopefully Ryan Shawcross (back), Marc Muniesa (hamstring) and Stephen Ireland (calf) will be back.

"It is important we get the right rest and prepare for West Brom, which will be a tough game."


From Belfast Telegraph