In a recent interview with the Echo, Everton captain, Phil Jagielka provided his thoughts on the current state of the club and discussed his excitement about this week's fixture against Lille. The 32 year old center back stated that the club's confidence in the Europa league is "sky high" at the moment as they sit at the top of their group after a win at home against Wolfsburg and a draw on the road at FK Krasnodar. A win on Thursday would put the Toffees in a great position to move on to the knockout stages of the continental competition.
The club's confidence in their European endeavors stands in contrast to their early-season Premier League campaign which has not gone according to plan. With several key injuries and some new players added to the mix, the club has struggled through their first two months of play and currently sits in thirteenth place with nine points through eight matches.
Last Saturday's match against Aston Villa should have boosted the Blue's confidence though. Ross Barkley returned to the lineup for the first time this season and they treated the Goodison crowd to a 3-0 victory. Of the match Jagielka said that they had "played well against Aston Villa, didn't make the silly mistakes we made in previous games and came out with three points". The key point of that statement being they cut out a lot of the dumb miscues that had cost them goals in earlier contests. It was to be expected that as the season progressed, the club would gain their form and play well together, it has just taken longer than most thought. Hopefully things stay this way.
He also referred back to previous European competitions during his time with the club. To this point, Jagielka has played in fourteen European matches with Everton. Specific matches that he brought up were Nuremberg, Sporting Lisbon and Fiorentina when Everton was knocked out of the competition in 2008. He talked about how much he enjoyed playing in Europe and stated his desire to move deep into the league this year to make things exciting: "We need to get to those later stages again and make more enjoyable nights in the Europa League."
Jagielka also addressed the fact that there are a large number of Everton supporters that are planning to travel to the match in Northern France. The reported amount of Evertonians in attendance could be between 8-10,000. The captain expects even more fans than the predicted amount and he wants the club to give them a good show: "These are the nights we want to enjoy"; surely the sentiment of all Everton supporters. Just like the fans, the players will need to show up with the right mindset. Lille is a contender, playing in a respected league and currently sitting in the upper half of their table in eighth place.