Everton heads to the Liberty Stadium licking its wounds after a devastating Monday night draw with Newcastle. The match, which Everton dominated (18/11 SOG; 58%/42% possession), ended 2-2 after referee Michael Jones and his crew failed to award Victor Anichebe for a header that crossed the goal-line before wrongfully calling Marouane Fellaini’s goal offsides. The draw followed Everton’s lackluster 2-0 loss to West Brom in Week 3 after starting the season in blistering form with wins against Manchester United (1-0) and Aston Villa (3-1).
Adding insult to injury (or rather, injury to injury), striker Nikica Jelavic is not likely make the trip to Wales after bruising his knee against the Magpies. Darron Gibson is also on the injury table and is likely out of commission until October 21st with a thigh problem. Expect the hard-working Anichebe to slide in for Jelavic while Phil Neville will continue to occupy Gibson’s role in the middle of the park.
Speaking of starting the season in blistering form, Swansea were the toast of the Prem after blanking QPR 5-0 and shelling West Ham 3-0. Like Everton, the Swans have hit a bit of a roadblock in the last two weeks, drawing 2-2 with Sunderland and falling to Aston Villa last week, 2-0.
The Swans’ troubles began against Sunderland when Spanish center-back Chico was sent-off and given a three match ban and cheeky left-back, Neil Taylor, fractured bones in his ankle. Against Aston Villa Kyle Bartley and Gary Monk were also shelved, leaving the left side of Michael Laudrup’s defense exposed to the Villain attack.
This week, expect Ben Davies and Alan Tate to again spell Taylor and Chico, while Laudrup may look to introduce former Celtic Ki Sung-Yueng as either a holding or attacking center-mid. Might we see a little Ki-Sung-Yueng-to-Michu-hookup? That’d be ill.
When Everton and Swansea met last year it was the Toffees who snatched a 1-0 victory on Merseyside (Leon Osmon 60′) before heading to the Liberty in the spring and dominating the Swans 2-0 (Leighton Baines 59′, Jelavic 76′).
Swansea Money Line (Must Win In 90 Mins): +190
Swansea Pick Line (Win = Win; Draw = Push): +115
Everton Money Line (Must Win In 90 Mins): +145
Everton Pick Line (Win = Win; Draw = Push): -150
Over/Under 2.5 Goals: EVEN/-130
First Goalscorer: Danny Graham 7/1, Luke Moore 9/1, Nathan Dyer 11/1; Kevin Mirallas 13/2, Marouane Fellaini 7/1, Steven Pienaar 12/1
Now, if you’ve decided to read this far, you can only be thinking one thing -
‘Wow, that was the most absurdly biased preview I’ve ever read.’
And I agree. I’m a massive Everton supporter, definitely biased.
But I’m also honest and I know my squad. When we’re poor, I’m the first to admit it. When we’re decent, I say we’re decent. And when we consistently start to look dangerous, I start to nudge people and pop a little bit of smack and say things like -
‘You see Everton today? Dude, we’re looking consistently dangerous.’
It’s fair to say that these days, I’m a bit cocky about my club.
While I am admittedly nervous about Jelavic potentially not playing, this kid Mirallas is easily the hungriest player I’ve seen since Cristiano Ronaldo came to Manchester United.
That’s right, I said it.
If you disagree, you can feel free to wake up at 7:30am EST Saturday morning and watch it live with me (@thesecondball). Study Mirallas for 15 minutes and then honestly tell me he isn’t going to score BAGS of goals for Everton. (Against Swansea, I’ve got him scoring the first goal and bagging a brace.)
And it’s not just Mirallas. Fellaini, Baines, Howard and Pienaar – all of them - are looking very comfortable on the ball and some appear to be peaking as players.
As if I needed to continue this article any longer, let me switch sides here and say something cliche: Despite being an Everton supporter, I, like other soulful football people, really enjoy watching Swansea play.
I know, shocker. So let’s just go ahead and add Swansea to the hipster football club list, joining other Bushwick-loved clubs like Napoli, Dortmund and Athletic Bilbao (shout out to Mark Booth (@markbooth85)).
But I have managed to watch a good deal of Swansea and have written more than a few articles devoted to their ridiculousness. They’re awesome to watch. The problem is that this weekend they’ve got a hole the size of Mars on one half of the defense. And that’s exactly where I see Mirallas setting up shop.
The final reason I’m so big on Everton this week comes from the fact that when we won 2-0 at the Liberty last spring, that match kicked off our nine game unbeaten streak to close out the league. Nothing like feeling comfortable when playing away from home.
The Evertonian vibration is POSITIVE!
Final Score: Everton 3, Swansea 1.