Michu the man to watch tomorrow - Michael Steele
Everton have been Swansea City's bogey team ever since they came into the Premier League. The Swans will be flying high after beating Chelsea midweek, but the Goodison crowd will be looking to bring them down.
Rumours of all sorts still abound regarding who Everton will be chasing, and even worse, who they will be losing over this transfer period. But amidst all that there is still some football to be played, and David Moyes will be telling the squad to get all the chatter out of their heads when on the pitch. Also, the news broke today that Ross Barkley has been sent to Leeds United on loan, a move that can only benefit the young lad.
Swansea City have quietly had a solid season so far. Michael Laudrup has done decently enough with his squad even after losing all sorts of players. His side sits in ninth place, but they are not all about star striker Michu. Though the Swans have slightly lesser possession now than under Brendan Rodgers, they are doing a better job in the final third of the field, where they are averaging more shots and scoring more too.
Team News -
Leighton Baines' ankles got a rest at halftime against Cheltenham, but have been in pretty bad shape after the mauling he took from Raheem Sterling's studs way back in October. Seamus Coleman returned to the side on Monday in the FA Cup Third Round game against Cheltenham Town, and even bagged a fortuitous goal too. Darron Gibson, and Tony Hibbert are all still injured while John Heitinga reportedly went to Amsterdam on his break this week. Kevin Mirallas has recovered from his injury but is short on match fitness.
Swans fullback Neil Taylor remains out and is the only long term injury. Kemy Agustien might be drafted into midfield to cope with the threat of Marouane Fellaini, while regular goalie Michel Vorm returns to the side after a midweek break.
Keys To The Game -
Everton haven't scored more than twice at home in the Premier League since the end of September, but there has been no shortage of chances. The Blues have had a hard time killing off games, and have been profligate with their finishing. Saturday is the kind of game where they will get punished if they don't get the job done when the chances are created. Nikica Jelavic should have been boosted by his goal on Monday, and along with Marouane Fellaini will be expected to come up with the goals.
Swansea are also in a rich vein of form, having held Arsenal in the FA Cup to a 2-2 draw, and then beating Chelsea 2-0 in the League Cup semis. Their secret has been a modified version of the tiki-taka, where despite conceding the bulk of the possession, they still managed to create enough chances to score. While Michu is the key man up front, shutting down Leon Britton and rest of the Spanish contingent of Jonathan de Guzmán, Pablo Hernandez Dominguez and Chico Flores are equally key to Laudrup's system. Last season's leading scorer Danny Graham has also struck form, and is competing with Michu for a starting spot.
Match Facts -
- Saturday marks the 10th anniversary of Leon Osman's debut in Everton colours.
- Everton lead the League in percentage of first half goals, with 57%.
- The Toffees last clean sheet was in September, against Swansea City.
- Swansea have only scored twice from set pieces this season.
- The Swans have never beaten Everton, losing twelve and drawing four times.
- Swansea have only lost twice in their last twelve Premier League games.