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Allardyce identifies key to Everton’s new-found momentum

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It’s no coincidence that the return of three key players has coincided with Everton’s recent upturn in form

Stoke City v Everton - Premier League Photo by Alex Morton/Getty Images

In a change from his usual tack, Sam Allardyce has chosen to praise someone other than himself for Everton’s recent good form.

The Toffees boss is often quick to highlight his influence when the team pick up good results, while blaming external factors when things go wrong.

However, the former England boss is now willing to dish out praise to three key players, whose return has helped spearhead the team’s revival.

Leighton Baines, Seamus Coleman and Phil Jagielka - the bedrock of David Moyes’ Everton side - remain just as crucial to the team’s success.

Saturday’s win at Stoke was the first away game all three players had started together since December 2016.

Some research by the Everton digital media team reveals that Everton average 1.7 points when Seamus Coleman and Leighton Baines are both in the side, compared to 1.2 points when one or both are absent.

Meanwhile, Everton have collected three points in the last three matches Jagielka has started.

Their presence has not been lost on the manager either:

“The experience of those boys gave up very little chances to Stoke. Keeping them on the field of play is helping us – not only in defending well but also in terms of the way we use the ball, keep the ball and move it forward through midfield. It gives us more opportunities to break the opposition down.”

With Jagielka and Baines well in their thirties, the upcoming international break is an ideal time to get some rest ahead of the back-to-back visits of Man City and Liverpool.

Allardyce believes the presence of his senior pros, as well as the confidence boost of successive wins, is vital ahead of those two demanding fixtures.

“It gives us confidence to believe we can go and get points. Two wins in two is very important before those games because we’re going to have to put up huge performances.

”I think that shows the character. For us, it’s a very important victory, a 2-1 win that gives us three points.

Now it’s a case of looking at all the plans we’ve got to start putting in place without taking our eye off the ball which is the next two home games coming up.”