Leighton Baines of Everton celebrates after scoring with another wondrous freekick at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea, Wales. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
Everton get back into the swing of things with the early game tomorrow, determined to put the refereeing fiasco at Goodison on Monday night behind them. They travel to South Wales to take on a Swansea City side sitting in fifth place, tied with Everton on seven points albeit with a better goal difference. A win for either team could see them join Chelsea at the top position.
Manager David Moyes has called on his boys to work on keeping their focus on the game, and being able to close out wins. While critical of the two bad decisions that cost the Toffees the win, he also blamed the team for not being able to hold on to the lead with just two minutes left to play, allowing Newcastle to score a late leveler.
More after the jump.
Everton were one of the few sides last season to do the double on Swansea, shutting them out in both fixtures. New coach Michael Laudrup embodies the ball possession methodology brought to Swansea by Roberto Martinez and propagated by Brendan Rodgers. The slickness of the Swan's passing has been likened to Spanish giants Barcelona's tiki-taka game, and speedy wingers Leon Britton and Nathan Dyer are key men in the system.
Team News -
Striker Nikica Jelavić will miss the game with a shin injury after colliding with the post early in the Newcastle game. Also out is midfielder Darron Gibson (thigh strain) while left back Tony Hibbert will face a late fitness test.
Laudrup is facing some early-season injury challenges, with Kemy Agustien joining a lengthy list including Neil Taylor, Chico Flores, Kyle Bartley and Garry Monk. Central defender Ashley Williams is carrying an ankle injury and should he play, will be keeping tabs on Marouane Fellaini in the air. Britton has been ill while Jonathan de Guzman and Danny Graham are both also nursing ankle injuries. New signings Pablo Hernandez and Ki Sung-yueng could also feature in this game.
Keys To The Game -
Moyes had the blueprint right last year, cutting off the supply line from goalie Michel Vorm by using Leon Osman deep and having Tim Cahill shadow Britton. Expect more of the same with Victor Anichebe harrying Vorm and Fellaini on Britton. If Hibbert is not fit for the game, captain Phil Neville should go into his spot and Dutchman Johnny Heitinga could be tasked with staying on dangerman Michu.
Spaniard Michu plays in the hole just in front of midfield, and along with the Dyer and Britton forms a dangerous trio charged with supplying Graham and Wayne Routledge in front. Goaltender Vorm is renowned for his ability on the ball, and often controls play with his outlet passes. The Swans are going to have a difficult time dealing with Everton's aerial prowess and will need to ensure their midfielders fall back to support the defence when they lose the ball.
Match Facts -
- Everton are yet to lose a game to Swansea, coming up triumphant in eleven out of fifteen previous fixtures.
- All five of the goals the Toffees have conceded this year have come in the second half of the game.
- Dating back to August 2010, Leighton Baines leads all defenders in scoring with ten goals.
- Swansea are joint top scorers in the Premiership with ten goals, tied with Manchester United and Fulham.
- The Swans are unbeaten at the Liberty Stadium in their last five fixtures.
- Swansea only lost thrice at the Liberty all of last season, to Everton, Manchester United and Norwich City.