Everton, smarting from their controversial draw with Newcastle, travel to Swansea on Saturday for a lunchtime kick off. With both sides winless in their last two league games, each team is chasing a much-needed three points.
After convincing wins over QPR and West Ham, Swansea has stalled of late. A draw with Sunderland followed, although Swansea played a chunk of the game with 10 men. A trip to the Midlands proved even less rewarding as struggling Aston Villa ran out easy winners.
Likewise, the good start from Everton is in danger of becoming an average one. A dismantling of Aston Villa followed an impressive win over Manchester United. Since then, Everton have flattered to deceive. A dour showing at West Brom led to a first defeat and, despite the bad officiating, the second half showing against Newcastle was below par.
In spite of recent stuttering, both sides boast good form. Unbeaten in their last five home league games, Swansea are a force on their own patch. Comparatively, Everton have lost just one of 13 league games whilst losing just one of seven on the road.
A reason for Everton optimism is their record against Swansea. Having met on 15 occasions, Everton remain unbeaten with eleven wins and four matches drawn. Continuing their impressive record, Everton won both of last season’s meetings to nil. In fact, The Swans failure to score covers three of their last four against Everton.
Swansea – What has changed?
After the departure of Brendan Rodgers, many thought Swansea would struggle without him. However, if early indications are a marker, the Swans will be just fine. Still adhering to their possession football, Michael Laudrup has created a more efficient side.
A criticism under Rodgers was Swansea’s inability to turn possession into goals and chances. Under Laudrup, this Swansea side are more productive with a greater urgency and threat to their play.
The greater attacking threat is evident with the minutes: goal ratio dropping from 82 to 38. The minutes per shot and shot on target ratios are also lower with the Swans more adventurous in the final third. With shooting accuracy up more than 10%, the shot volume and accuracy are both up. The most telling statistic is the chance conversion rate with it doubling from 13% to 26%.
Can Everton fill the Jelavic void?
After colliding with the post against Newcastle, star man Nikica Jelavic could miss two weeks. Victor Anichebe took his place on Monday with a well-taken goal and another chalked off. Having scored six in his last 11 substitute appearances, Anichebe is more suited to an impact role.
Able to use his physique against tiring defences, he thrives in the latter stages of games. However, with doubts over his stamina and fitness, Anichebe often struggles when starting matches. Despite his flaws, Anichebe is likely to get the nod on Saturday.
Looking at last season’s statistics, it is evident that Anichebe excels as a substitute. With four goals from nine shots, Anichebe’s conversion rate is an impressive 44% with him making the most of his sub appearances. Jelavic, the better player, outscores his counterpart in all bar one category but Anichebe can use Monday’s promising showing as a platform.
Swansea’s home form is under threat as they face injury problems in defence. Three of their first choice back four could miss out with Neil Taylor and Chico definitely out and Ashley Williams a doubt. The absence of Jelavic and Darron Gibson is sorely felt for the visitors. Lightweight in midfield of late, Marouane Fellaini’s physical presence is needed in the engine room. With two evenly matches sides, this promises to be a lunchtime feast.
5 – All the goals Everton have conceded this season have been in the 2nd half
10 – All of Swansea’s goals this season have come in open play
7,000 – Two more goals will see Everton reach 7,000 league goals