Norwich City making it hard for all Premier League opponents - Everton’s Phil Jagielka
10:13 06 April 2012
Defender Phil Jagielka expects chances to be at a premium when Everton come to Carrow Road, bidding for a fourth successive win.
The Toffees have won their last three matches 2-0, with their FA Cup quarter-final replay victory at Sunderland sandwiched between Premier League wins over Swansea and West Bromwich Albion.
But England international Jagielka, 29, says goalscoring opportunities will be few and far between against the Canaries on Saturday.
He said Paul Lambert’s men had made it difficult for all their top-flight opponents.
“A lot of bookies and others might have expected them to struggle but they’ve been flying,” said Jagielka. “They’ve conceded a few goals over the course of the season as everyone does, but nobody has had an easy game against them.
“They will attack you – they often play two up front – but he’s got them well drilled and they haven’t been turned over.
“Grant Holt has scored some important goals while John Ruddy has done very well.”
Goalkeeper Ruddy made just one first team appearance for Everton in five years before he was sold to Norwich in 2010. But Jagielka insists the 6ft 4in ’keeper will be tough to beat.
“When John was here there was never an issue over whether he was a good goalkeeper,” he told the Liverpool Echo. “He stopped shots and did the rest really well.
“But he had very good goalkeepers in front of him, and sometimes when you do play a team where you’re going to be busy in goal it’s easier to keep your concentration.
“If you speak to managers, they’ll say the best keepers aren’t those that make 10 great saves in a game, it’s the ones who make one or two.
“Manchester United have been through quite a lot of goalkeepers because they’ve bought guys who are good shot stoppers, but haven’t maybe saved the key ones in games.
“John had to go out and play a lot of first team football to realise his potential. Now his concentration has got a lot better.
“In goalkeeping terms he was a baby here, and he’s still a young man but he’s grown into it. His kicking is great, he’s a big boy and he has always been a good shot stopper.”
Holt’s goal gave the Canaries a 1-1 draw at Goodison Park in December, but Everton have improved over the second half of the season and have moved up into seventh place, above rivals Liverpool.
They have not conceded a goal for nearly six hours, since Arsenal defender Thomas Vermaelen struck an eighth-minute winner at Goodison Park on March 21.