These two clubs have had differing seasons with Swansea performing strongly in the league and on course for their best ever Premier League finish. Meanwhile Everton have underperformed and look a shadow of the team that threatened to break into the top four just 12 months ago. The Toffees have improved since being knocked out of the Europa League, but they are unlikely to finish in the top half, which will disappoint the board and fans alike. Both of these clubs have bright young coaches in charge, who bring ambition as Garry Monk and Roberto Martinez will be aiming for success early in their careers. This season Monk is leading Swansea to both their highest Premier League points total and their highest finish, an achievement that is incredible in only his first full season of management.
Swansea are now established as a Premier League club and thought of as one of the best outside of the top seven, which is shown this season as they sit nicely in 8th position. It looks very likely that the Welsh club will achieve a top half finish, and they continue to progress despite the departures of important players. They experienced a slight drop in form after the sale of Wilfried Bony, but they are now starting to play well again with Bafetimbi Gomis looking like an adequate replacement. The Frenchman had a good record in France, and after a slow start, he is looking like a player of Premier League caliber. Unlike some other sides, they don’t look like they are on the beach yet and a strong finish should be expected from Monk’s men.
Roberto Martinez will be the first to tell you that this season has been very poor considering the talent he has available in his squad. Some will suggest that he prioritised the Europa League, but that ended badly with a disappointing loss away to Dynamo Kyiv. Their young players have failed to make the impact that they did last season and the lack of depth in the squad has also been a problem for Martinez to deal with. Without European football next season, Everton will want to try and get back into the top 6 picture, but to do so, they must keep their best players. The rest of the season is a write off for Everton as they can’t achieve very much, but Martinez will want to finish strongly to show that he is still the right man for the job.
In the first meeting of the two sides this season, it was a dull affair with only three shots finding the target. It finished in a 0-0 draw with Everton having the better of the game. The two sides met earlier on this season in the Capital One Cup at the Liberty Stadium and the home side ran out 3-0 winners. The goalscorers that day were Nathan Dyer, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Marvin Emnes.
- Swansea have only conceded on average, a goal every game since conceding five goals against Chelsea, which highlights an improvement in their defensive organisation.
- Everton are going into this match on the back of three successive victories, which is the first time they have achieved this in the 2014/15 season.
Swansea were always taking a risk in January as they opted to place faith in Bafetimbi Gomis after Wilfried Bony departed for Manchester City. Gomis was unhappy after receiving little playing time in the first half of the campaign, but since Bony left, the Frenchman has slowly performed better and better in the white of Swansea. He was a well respected striker in France for many years as he continued to score with regularity and he is now starting to replicating that form in England. He has scored three goals in his last two games and the decision to place faith in Gomis is starting to pay off for Garry Monk and the board. They will be looking to add depth to their frontline in the summer with the money from the Bony sale, but Gomis is beginning to secure his place as Swansea’s main striker going into next season. It can take time for foreign players to settle in England, and Gomis has been slow to impact matches on a regular basis. The forward was always going to suit the Premier League as his pace, strength and athleticism make him a handful for any defence. As well as being very good with his feet, Gomis can win challenges in the air, which is crucial in the Premier League, due to the physicality of the league. He will cause problems for Everton this Saturday and he could continue his good form in front of goal.
Everton have been built on solid foundations in recent years with their defence being the key to their success. It has remained unchanged for many years now, with the familiarity of the back five being a real strength. This season, they have been very poor for their standards, with many pointing the finger at Roberto Martinez for being poor at organising the defence, but there have been signs since dropping out of the Europa League, that the strong Everton backline are now back. Phil Jagielka has been one of the best central defenders in the Premier League over the last five years, resulting in him becoming a regular in the England side. He has been very good during Everton’s last three games and the defence has kept two clean sheets in the process. He even showed his quality in the opposition penalty area last weekend as he scored the winner to secure a huge victory over this season’s surpise package in Southampton. Everton are slowly becoming their old selfs and a lot of that is due to the return to form of their defence. Jagielka is central to that.
Jefferson Montero is closing in on a return, but he is a doubt going into this weekend. Kyle Naughton will be out until next season after suffering an ankle injury last weekend. Jack Cork is another doubt this weekend for the home side. Tom Carroll is still missing, but he is expected to return before the end of the season.
Aidan McGeady and Romulu Lukaku are both doubts going into this weekend for Everton. Bryan Oviedo and Tony Hibbert will be missing until next weekend, while Darron Gibson will be out until next season.
I think it will be a really entertaining match this Saturday as two of the best sides to watch come head to head in Wales. Both are in good form and showing that they don’t want to fade away as the season comes to a close. Swansea are the home side and will have ambitions to catch the sides above them, although that looks unlikely given the look of the table. Everton will be traveling to Swansea wanting to prove that they are still one of the best sides in the division and a strong finish could give them momentum going into next season. I think it will be a home win, but there will be goals for both sides.
Swansea 3-2 Everton