A lack of attacking options could cost Everton their dream of playing UEFA Champions League football next season, claims Phil Jagielka.
Having lost David Moyes to Manchester United in the summer, many pundits predicted a campaign of transition at Goodison Park this term. However, Roberto Martinez was recruited to replace the long-serving Scot, and the former Wigan Athletic boss has transformed the Toffees into one of the most entertaining sides in the country.
Once again, the Merseyside giants are battling for a top-four finish, but one win in their last four matches has seen them fall off the pace a little. A 1-0 defeat to rivals Tottenham Hotspur has resulted in the Londoners leapfrogging them into fifth position, and Martinez’s men are now five points behind neighbours Liverpool who are in fourth.
With 13 games left to play there is no reason why Everton can’t rediscover their form to kick-start their bid for Champions League football, but Jagielka admits a lack of firepower could hinder their attempts. Romelu Lukaku, who has nine goals, is currently sidelined with an ankle injury, whilst on-loan Monaco ace Lacina Traore isn’t quite match fit.
“We’re struggling a little bit at the moment,” England international defender Jagielka told the Liverpool Echo. “Lacina is not quite right yet and it’s difficult because although we played some good stuff, we were perhaps missing that fox in the box or target man to get us the goal. It’s going to be a little bit harder for us now. There are other teams in the mix for fourth, but there’s still 13 games left and a lot of points to play for.”
Everton return to action on Wednesday night, when Crystal Palace travel to Goodison. The Eagles have been in good form since Tony Pulis was appointed manager, and a 3-1 win against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday, their third success in the last four outings, means they are now three points clear of the relegation zone.