Jags: Fellaini hard to contain

The 24-year-old was the dominant force throughout Monday night’s

Premier League match at Goodison Park and capped an impressive

performance with the only goal early in the second half.

Jagielka is well aware of the 6ft 3in Belgium midfielder’s

talents having faced him in training every week but accepts it is a

different prospect handling him in a competitive match.

“It’s a little bit different in training as you can kick him,

pinch him and pull his hair and get away with it but when he is

switched on like he was, it is nearly impossible to mark him,” said

the centre-back.

“He’s about a foot taller than me so there’s pretty much nothing

you can do other than stay behind him and give him a little bit of

a nudge and hope he has an off day with his touch and his

passing.

“As a centre-half, you can try to nick in front of him but he is

strong enough to hold you off so you have to stay behind him and

hope he’s not having a good day.

“I know what it is like and it is frustrating as hell and when

he is clever enough to bring it down and pop it off to players who

play a deadly ball it makes us hard to play against.”

With the departure of Tim Cahill over the summer manager David

Moyes has more freedom to deploy Fellaini further up the pitch in

an advanced role behind a lone striker, most likely to be Nikica

Jelavic this season.

It is an option the Scot has employed before but Jagielka

believes with the players he now has around him – Steven Pienaar

re-joined in the summer and Jelavic is starting his first full

season – Fellaini can be much more of a threat.

“We do look dangerous when he is in that form and when players

around him – Steven Pienaar and Leon Osman – are playing well it

takes some pressure off Jelavic as a target man,” added the England

international.

“I am sure teams will try to find ways to stop us but Felli is a

good player and he will find other ways to get on the ball and be

dangerous for us.”

Everton are perennial slow-starters and Monday’s victory was

their first in their opening fixture in five years.

However, Moyes is not getting carried away and expects his

players to be the same.

“The only year when I can remember we made a good start was when

we finished in a Champions League spot (in 2005),” said the Toffees

boss, adding that previous seasons had seen his side play

“catch-up” too often.

Jagielka agreed, although he admitted he preferred the

expectation which came with an opening-game win rather than the

alternative of recent years.

“I’d much rather have the pressure of that (being expected to

carry on winning) than the pressure of relegation for the first six

months of the season,” said the defender.

“Everyone is really happy but we won’t get too carried away.

“Our manager won’t let us have our heads in the clouds for any

time whatsoever, we will be cracking on for the game on Saturday to

see if we can get a result there.

“Everyone was expecting us to go to the Villa game with no goals

and no points but thankfully we have three points.

“We always seem to get some momentum in the latter part of the

season so let’s see if we can mix it up.”