Premier League – Everton v Swans at 13:30 on Sunday, 24th January 2016
Referee: Anthony Taylor
Assistants: L Betts, G Beswick
Fourth Official: A Marriner
After Monday night’s much needed 3 points against Watford, the Swans venture to Goodison Park this weekend to take on arguably their biggest bogey side of all, whom just happen to be managed by ex-Swans gaffer Roberto Martinez of course.
But in truth, this Swansea team and the way they play, is a long long way from the one which Martinez started to mould during his stint in south Wales and the new head coach in the shape of Italian, Francesco Guidolin, will surely add to the intrigue, as quite frankly no-one really knows what to expect.
Whilst Swans legend Alan Curtis and his sidekicks steadied the ship after Garry Monk’s departure, it is the arrival of former Udinese coach Guidolin that will no doubt determine the destiny of Swansea City over the next 5 months and given his proven track record – in Italy at least – we can expect one or two surprises.
He certainly isn’t afraid to make bold decisions regarding team formations and is an advocate of playing three defenders, of which only one is what most of us would classify as an out-and-out defender, purely because many teams these days play only one up front and pack the middle of the park instead. Who knows, but Guidolin may try the 3-6-1 formation or something very similar against the Toffees.Now that might sound crazy, but IF it works then I doubt many of the Jack Army will complain given the circumstances!
Thankfully Ashley Williams appears to have shrugged off the knock he suffered in the Watford game, so Messrs Curtis & Guidolin have a fully fit squad to choose from. Although it is unlikely there will be any change in the starting eleven from Monday given the fight and desire on display – arguably with the exception of Ki perhaps.
Whilst Everton always appear to be formidable opponents for the Swans (they’ve never lost to the Swans in a league match), they aren’t exactly firing on all cyclinders themselves having won just three of their last 13 Premier League fixtures at Goodison Park.
Everton could possibly be without James McCarthy, Seamus Coleman and Tom Cleverley, whom are all coming back from injury problems but perhaps the Swans biggest worry will be keeping top scorer Romelo Lukaku quiet, with the Belgian having scored 12 times in his last 14 appearances for the Toffees. Kevin Mirallas is also in a rich vein of form and he is another that the Swans will have to keep a keen eye on if they are to come back from Merseyside with some points.
With the Swans not having won on their travels since beating Villa 2-1 way back in October and the history books not being kind either, few people give the Swans any chace this weekend – especially the pundits!
But although the Swans have never beaten Everton in the league, they do have the capability defensively to shut out the Toffees and many will no doubt remember the time these sides met at Goodison Park – when the 10 man Swans (thanks to JJS getting sent off) put on a brave defensive display which earned a point.
Whilst it might be a bit much to ask the Swans to do an Italian job this weekend and come home with a 3 point heist, don’t be too surprised if they manage to get at least a share of the spoils.
Everton 1 Swans 1
What the Pundits Think
Paul Merson (Sky Sports) – Everton 4 Swans 0
The one thing you’re going to get with Everton is that they score goals and concede goals. I don’t think Swansea can hurt them though, and I think Everton will romp home. I feared for Swansea until they beat Watford on Monday, that was a big football game. They’re still very much in the relegation mix but it was a big three points nonetheless, dragging Watford down a bit. When you’re at the bottom you want as many teams as possible down there with you. Despite that, I predict an easy Everton win with Romelu Lukaku to continue his fine goalscoring form.”
Mark Lawrenson (BBC) – Everton 2 Swans 0
Everton keep conceding late goals that cost them points but it is going to happen because they are a Roberto Martinez team – their manager plays open, attractive football but his problem is he cannot close the back door. Martinez’s old team Swansea have got bigger problems, though. When I watched them against Watford on Monday night, they won but they looked like a Championship team. I am not sure where the possession football, crisp passing and movement they had under Martinez and so many of their other recent managers has gone. They also look vulnerable at the back. Ashley Williams is still a very good centre-half but I am far less convinced by the fellow who plays alongside him, Federico Fernandez. He struggled positionally against the Hornets, and also made some rash challenges.”
Steve Bower (MOTD Commentator)
Neither of these sides are where they wanted or expected to be at this stage of the season. Everton’s inability to close out victories has cost them dearly. I watched their 11th draw of the season last weekend at Chelsea. If close to half of those draws had been wins, they would be right in the European hunt. Swansea badly needed Monday’s victory over Watford and now it will be fascinating to see how they try and move forward under Francesco Guidolin. The Italian will be aware they need more of a goal threat as he experiences English football for the first time. If he can lead his new club to their first ever league win over Everton, he’ll really get people believing.” “
Last meeting at the Liberty Stadium
1 November 2014: Everton 0 Swans 0
Current League Form (Last 6)
Predicted Swans Starting XI:
Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Williams (Capt), Taylor, Britton, Ki, Cork, Sigurdsson, Routledge, Ayew.
At the Bookies
Those of you who fancy a flutter might want to check out the odds being offered on the game at the moment and here are a list of our top picks.
Get odds of 7/2 on Andre Ayew to Score and Swansea to win.
Get odds of 7/2 on the match to end as a 1-1, 2-2 or 3-3 draw.
Get odds of 5/1 on the Swans to win 1-0, 2-0 or 2-1.
Let us know your thoughts – whether on the game or the betting odds(!) using the comment box below 🙂