Almost 50 years have passed since the Blues went through an entire league campaign without losing a match in front of their own fans. But while Phil Jagielka admits that he would like David Moyes’ men to emulate the feat of Harry Catterick’s 1962/63 title winners, the defender insists that his eyes remain on a more meaningful prize. Chelsea on Sunday represent a huge test of Goodison’s fortress credentials, but with the Blues only two points behind Rafa Benitez’s men Jagielka prefers to focus on where beating top sides like the Londoners could take them.
“We can’t look too far ahead in terms of going unbeaten at Goodison all season,” says the 30-year-old.
“It’s all about picking up the points. We’ve put ourselves in a position where we’ve not lost at home and there have been some good performances, but it’s only half way in the season.
“If we were to lose a few at home between now and May but pick up lots of wins which got us into the top four I’d take that. Finishing as high up the table as possible is more important than any record really.”
Jagielka says every Premier League player sat up and took notice of Chelsea’s formidable demolition of Aston Villa, and he is aware that the free-scoring Stamford Bridge side will take some stopping.
“I watched the 8-0 game and there’s no doubt they’ll give us a big test,” he says.
“But to come to Goodison will be an interesting prospect for them. One thing I’m sure about is the manager will be looking into every way to stop them and he’ll have us up for it.”
There will be a familiar face in the dug-out on Sunday which Evertonians are sure to associate with an even more heated fixture. As a former Liverpool manager Benitez is unlikely to have many admirers in L4, but Jagielka says his influence cannot be underestimated.
“I’ve played in a few derbies when Benitez was Liverpool manager but this’ll be slightly different away from that derby atmosphere,” he says.
“The game has moved on since then and Chelsea play with a lot of attacking flair. Their team is packed with players who can potentially beat you one on one so we know we’ll have our hands full. You wouldn’t expect anything else with the money they’ve spent.”