Jagielka sings praises of Everton team-mate Barkley
Midfielder gets a booking but ends a difficult week by winning man of the match
Everton’s Ross Barkley celebrates the scoring of their second goal during the Premier League match. Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images
Everton’s Ross Barkley celebrates their second goal. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Reuters
Everton captain Phil Jagielka praised the character of Ross Barkley after the midfielder capped a difficult week with a man-of-the-match performance. The 23-year-old created the important second goal in the 3-1 win over Burnley as part of a mature performance full of responsibility.
Jagielka said Barkley had coped well with the media storm which began with him hitting the headlines after being allegedly punched on a night out last Sunday, and then becoming inadvertently embroiled in the row which saw the Sun newspaper banned from the club after derogatory comments about him by columnist Kelvin MacKenzie.
“I’ve known Ross for a long time now. He’s been around the first-team for a long, long time and nothing fazes him,” Jagielka told Evertontv.
“These things can happen. It’s not ideal but, character-wise, he was still out there for the Academy Day this week and joined in.
“He’s a normal lad who likes to play football and I’m going to give him that goal, even though it might only go down as an assist.”
Barkley’s strike was credited as a Ben Mee own goal, having taken deflections off Michael Keane and then his central-defensive partner, but it was all the Everton man’s work, jinking into the penalty area and then cutting back onto his right foot.
Certainly the way he celebrated by jumping into the Gwladys Street end – earning himself a booking – showed he was definitely claiming it.
The goal helped secure an eighth successive home league win, Everton’s best run since April 1990, as Burnley were posing a threat with the score at 1-1 after Jagielka’s goal early in the second half was cancelled out by Sam Vokes’ penalty, which saw the Clarets striker inexplicably brought down by goalkeeper Joel Robles.
Toffees striker Romelu Lukaku matched the great Dixie Dean’s record of 1934 with his 24th Premier League goal of the season, meaning he has now also scored in nine successive home league matches.
“It is a big achievement, the same as it is a big achievement for the team that we have eight wins in a row at home,” said manager Ronald Koeman.
“I heard Everton in 2017 is the most productive team [in terms of goals scored] behind Barcelona.
“That is fantastic for the fans to enjoy the football, enjoy the wins. We are breaking records and, if we can keep that [going] until the end of the season, that would be nice.”
Burnley’s quest for a first away win of the season continues, but even with just four points accumulated on the road their top-flight future should be secure because of how strong they are at Turf Moor.
“It’s a head scratcher when you think of the times away from home we have had the chance to put one to bed,” said boss Sean Dyche.
“With that kind of performance that is going to win you a game away from home at some point, I think.
“One day all the deflections are going to happen for you. We don’t want to rely on it but it would be nice if a couple of deflections went in for us.”
– Press Association Sport