Everton go into this Saturday’s game with Swansea in a good run of form that has seen them win successive League fixtures for the first time this season, scoring six goals and only conceding once along the way. A midweek trip to Lille was sandwiched in between the wins over Villa and Burnley and we managed to keep a clean sheet and earn a point during our latest Europa League clash in France which was another boost for the Blues. Since the international break there has been an upturn in fortunes for Martinez’ side who had only one once in the League previous to the Villa victory, and not too long ago the Toffees were languishing in 17th place in the Premier League.
After our latest win on Sunday at Burnley we’ve moved up to ninth place in the table (steady on) and a win this weekend against 6th placed Swansea could see the Blues rise to 5th depending on results elsewhere. Everton face a side who until recently had never beaten them, but unfortunately that run came to an end when the Swans defeated us 3-0 in the Captial One Cup last month, knocking us out of a competition we’ve never managed to win. Everton will be looking to make amends for that disappointing loss at the Liberty Stadium when Gary Monk brings his side to Goodison Park and the home side will be hoping to build on their recent good form and continue to clime the table.
After a disappointing first two months of the campaign Roberto Martinez’ side have gained some momentum in recent weeks and with only one League victory at Goodison so far this term the Swansea game is the perfect opportunity to register our second win on home soil. We are looking in good shape with Eto’o rolling back the years to inspire us to victory last time out and Lukaku scoring goals and we go into the game brimming with confidence. At the back we’ve sorted ourselves out too and Jagielka has started to show some real form at the heart of our defence. I’d fully expect Alcaraz – who has done well recently – to partner Jags against the Swans and Distin will probably swap places with the Paraguay man when we face Lille next week. Leighton Baines has been in sublime form this season and his energy, along with Coleman’s from right back, provide an additional boost to our play which has looked dangerous in recent fixtures. Both Gareth Barry and James McCarthy continue to do the business in the midfield and ahead of them is where Martinez will probably make a change this Saturday. Ross Barkley played 90 minutes in France and was subsequently rested against Burnley, but the midfielder came on in the second period and continues to build his fitness as he recovers from a long lay-off. I can see Ross starting against Swansea and his inclusion might mean Eto’o drops the bench and either Pienaar, Osman or McGeady (shudders) starts whilst Lukaku and Naismith continue in attack. I know we’d all like to see Eto’o get another League start and continue where he left off at Turf Moor but after playing out in Lille and then at Burnley I predict Martinez will give him a rest against Swansea and start him again when Lille visit Goodison next Thursday night. Admittedly if I was picking the team I’d start the same XI as the one that beat Burnley but I’m not the manager of Everton and the way things are going currently in terms of selection I do expect to see changes this weekend.
Martinez is mixing it up at the minute and whether it is Besic, Distin, Eto’o, McGeady, Pienaar or a couple of others, he is chopping and changing and utilising his options as he sees fit and it has been working well. Although we’ve had shocking luck on the injury front the return of Barkley and Coleman was the massive boost we’ve needed and overall the squad is looking in a good place at the moment. With Oviedo and Mirallas returning in the coming weeks we can hopefully kick on and continue this run of form we’ve created since the international break and on Saturday we have the chance to get another morale boosting win but there is no denying it will be a tough fixture.
Swansea make the trip to Goodison Park on the back of a midweek defeat to Liverpool in the League Cup but won their last League fixture 2-0 against Leicester. The Swans’ only away win this term came on the opening day at Old Trafford (1-2) and since then they have played three times away from home, drawing once and losing twice. Striker Wilfried Bony has hit form for Monk’s side, and the Ivorian has scored four times in the Premier League this season – making him the Club’s joint top scorer alongside Nathan Dyer. Both of these players and others like Sigurdsson and Routledge are the ones to watch but Evertonians will be hoping they have a quiet afternoon at Goodison on Saturday as the Toffees look to take all three points. The two sides met three times last season and Everton came out with a trio of wins – twice in the League and once in the FA Cup. The two previous times Swansea have visited Everton the home side have managed to score three goals (3-1 & 3-2 wins) so our record against Saturday’s visitors reads well, especially in the Premier League as we have never suffered a defeat against tomorrow’s visitors to Goodison.
Both sides are renowned for their passing style and Everton are only third to Man City and Arsenal for the highest possession stats (57%) in the League so far this season. Martinez and Monk’ sides like to get the ball down and play so I can’t imagine a gung-ho affair tomorrow afternoon – more like a slow, cagey game as both sides look to pick holes in the opposition. If we do come away with all three points against the Welsh side, it will be our 200th Premier League home win and with another full house expected at the Church of Football, I’m feeling positive going into this one. With Barkley back in the side and our attackers scoring goals, we have no reason to fear the visitors and I’m confident that whoever Roberto picks to start tomorrow will be good enough to ensure we overcome Swansea who aren’t the best travellers in the League. That said, Bony will provide a handful for our defence but if Jagielka continues to play like the Jagielka we all know then hopefully we can shut out the Ivorian and his team mates and get another huge victory.
I’ll be having a punt on Lukaku first goal and Everton to win 2-0 tomorrow, I think the Belgian is hungry to continue his goal-trail and since the Villa game we’ve seen a change in his all-round attitude and desire on the pitch. Rom has the perfect mentor in Eto’o to help him develop and with those two in-form, plus Naismith, our attacking department hasn’t looked so healthy for many a year. I think we will be too strong for Swansea tomorrow and I have to say I’d be disappointed with anything less than a win. Looking further down the line we then host Lille at Goodison before an away trip to struggling Sunderland and I am very confident that our next trio of fixtures can be as fruitful as our previous three.
Up the Toffees.