Swansea are set to face Everton are the Liberty Stadium in the first of three cup finals which will ultimately determine whether the club can preserve their Premier League status and avoid returning to the Championship after six years in the top flight. The team have shown superb fighting spirit and determination to right the wrongs during what has been a turbulent campaign on and off the pitch, and while the dip in form between March and April could prove costly in the battle to avoid the drop, Paul Clement will ensure that Swansea do not go down without a fight.
He has made a big difference since arriving in January as the club’s third manager of the season, with the excellent 1-1 draw at Old Trafford against Manchester United in our last match proof, if needed, that the team are firmly behind Clement and have what it takes to overhaul Hull in seventeenth. Bookmaker Ratings may consider the Swans as favourites to pick up an invaluable three points on home soil against a side that have very little to play for, but it will be far from easy against an Everton side who have enjoyed a superb campaign.
It should be noted that not only are Swansea unbeaten in the last six meetings between the two teams in all competitions, but they have also not lost their previous three matches against Everton at the Liberty Stadium. The last time the Toffees tasted victory in Wales was back in December 2013 when goals from Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley secured three points for the visitors.
Although history points towards another positive result for Swansea, the last two home games against Everton ended in draws which, given the current situation that the club are in, would not be enough if the upcoming match also ended all square. Swansea simply have to go for three points; the other fixtures against Sunderland and West Brom may offer a better chance to put invaluable points on the board, but with Hull facing already-relegated Sunderland at home, Clement and his players have to put everything on the line in an effort to, at the very least, match their result.
Beating Everton is much easier said than done, with Ronald Koeman’s side currently sitting seventh after an excellent season in which they threatened to break into the top four. However, Swansea may hang onto the belief that the Toffees may have very little to play for; they are mathematically assured of finishing no lower than their current position, and as they have played two games more than Arsenal, it appears highly unlikely that Everton will bridge the current two-point gap between the two sides.
While this may be true, Everton have plenty of quality at their disposal to cause Swansea problems, with the current Premier League top scorer Romelu Lukaku undoubtedly the man to look out for. The big Belgian striker has been in sparkling form throughout the season, scoring twenty-four goals as his physical, aerial and finishing abilities have come to the fore. Barkley is another who Clement will pinpoint as a serious threat to his team’s chances of keeping Everton at bay, while former Swans favourite Ashley Williams is set for an emotional return to a club where he spent eight years.
With the right signings during the summer, Everton could certainly progress and find themselves in the tips for Champions League section on Bookmaker Ratings in the not too distant future. In stark contrast, Swansea must focus on preserving their Premier League status, with a victory against the Toffees likely to go a long way towards avoiding the drop. Clement has accepted that his team’s destiny is ultimately out of their own hands after Hull’s remarkable recovery from what appeared to be a desperate situation at the bottom, but all fans can ask for is that the team give it everything and take the game to Everton.
Three points could prove pivotal if Hull slip up, and if Swansea are able to keep Everton’s main threats quiet and get their own firing on all cylinders in front of what is likely to be a wonderful atmosphere at the Liberty Stadium, then the great escape could be well and truly alive.