With Everton booking their place in the next round of the FA Cup, attention returns back to the league where Everton will be hoping to stay in the race for 4th as they host a high flying and confident Swansea City outfit at Goodison Park. Everton took care of business against League 2 side Cheltenham Town in the cup with a dominant 5-1 win, however, Swansea will pose a much, much tougher task. For Swansea, the fixtures are coming thick and fast for the Welsh outfit, they managed to earn a replay against Arsenal in the FA Cup and midweek took a firm step towards Wembley with a massive 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea in the first leg of the semi final of the Capital One Cup. Everton, currently 5th, 3pts behind 3rd placed Tottenham, will be hoping that the hectic fixture list catches up with the rather small Swansea squad and bag themselves an important 3pts.
Everton stalwart Leon Osman on his 10yr anniversary since making his Everton debut
‘I feel like I’m 21. I feel young and good and hopefully I’m going to continue to feel like that and continue to play in the first-team. I’m delighted to have achieved 10 years. It’s something that you want to do – you grow up wanting to play for Everton. Not only have I done that now, I’ve done it for a decade. I’m thrilled.
Swansea fullback Angel Rangel on his sides semi final win over Chelsea and looking ahead to the 2nd leg
‘We have to be really strong at home, we have to defend well and maybe score another goal to kill the game off, We will put everything into that game and we will stay focused. It will be difficult, but we have to try to keep a clean sheet and score ourselves. We must finish the job and give something to the fans.’
Everton Team News:
The major concern for Everton ahead of the clash is the fitness of fullback Leighton Baines, Baines has been hampered with an ankle problem for the past couple of weeks, although he did play a good 80mins against Cheltenham Town, so you would imagine that he will face Swansea. Everton could also regain the services of Kevin Mirallas, the winger has missed a month of football with a hamstring injury, although, given it is a reoccurrence of the same injury, Moyes may be tempted into bringing him back slowly. The only definite outs for Everton are Tony Hibbert (calf) and Darron Gibson (thigh).
Possible Starting XI: Howard, Coleman, Distin, Jagielka, Baines, Osman, Neville, Pienaar, Oviedo, Fellaini, Jelavic
Player to watch: Marouane Fellaini
Has been surrounded by transfer talks this week concerning his release clause, but he has allayed fears about leaving in January and the Big Belgian will be looking to add to his already impressive tally of 10 goals this season. Is the key for Everton to stopping the Swansea style football, and showed it at the Liberty earlier in the season, his pressing and defending clearly hampered the likes of Britton and forced turnovers. If Fellaini can get on top of the likes of Britton, Ki, De Guzman, whoever will play in the centre of midfield for Swansea, and stop their passing game, then Everton stand a good chance of getting the 3pts.
Swansea Team News:
Think the major worry for Swansea manager Michael Laudrup will be the fitness of his players, and he may be tempted to rest some players given the fixture congestion they face. With his side playing terrific football, Laudrup does have some headaches over the starting XI, the major question is whether inform striker Danny Graham will get the start after scoring the 2nd in the 2-0 win at Chelsea. Expect at least one change tot he side that beat Chelsea midweek with keeper Vorm making his make back into the starting line up. Only definite out for the Swans is fullback Neil Taylor, who is a long term absentee with a serious ankle injury.
Possible Starting XI: Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Tiendalli, Britton, Ki, Routledge, Dyer, Michu, Graham
Player to watch: Michu
This lad can really play, still amazing to think he cost a measly 2mil in the summer, and to be the Premier League’s top scorer is an impressive feat. He is the type of player that makes everything look so easy, he is so calm and collected at all times with the ball, really is a pleasure to watch. Seems to be scoring for fun at the moment, has scored twice this week against Arsenal and then against Chelsea, and is the motor behind this Swansea side. Really does have everything you need to be a top footballer at this level, good football IQ, technically very good, strong, eye for goal, excellent finishing. Will definitely be the danger man as far as Everton is concerned and the defensive midfielders, most likely Osman and Neville, as well as the defence are going to need to keep an eye on this lad for the entire 90mins, because if you don’t, he will punish you.
Match Facts & Stats
1. Everton became the first side in Premier League history to score and concede in the last 16 games.
2. The last time Everton kept a clean sheet, was way back on the 22nd of September in a 3-0 win over Swansea at the Liberty.
3. Everton hold a very impressive record over Swansea. In the 16 matches between the 2 sides, Everton have won 12 and drawn the other 4.
4. Everton have claimed 20pts from losing positions this season, second only to Man United who have 24pts.
5. 57% of Everton’s goals have come in the 1st half, the highest percentage in the league.
This Swansea match starts an important run of 4 games for Everton. The next 4 games are very winnable games against sides lower than Everton and 3 of them being at Goodison Park, with a tough run to end the season, Everton need to be looking at picking up at the very least 10pts out of this stretch and needs to start with the game against Swansea. Although Swansea are absolutely flying and playing some terrific football, Everton are at Goodison, and despite losing last time out, rather unluckily to Chelsea, it is still a very tough place to go to for any side. Not to mention, hopefully Everton can take advantage of the Swans hectic fixture list in January, due to their success in both cups and get the 3pts. As for a prediction, am going to go for a 2-1 win with Fellaini and Jelavic scoring for Everton and Michu grabbing one for Swansea. COYB!!!! IMPORTANT TO GET THE 3PTS, NEED TO KEEP THE PRESSURE ON SPURS AND CHELSEA!!!!