Premier League 17/18 Week 34: Swansea City vs Everton – Lineups, Preview and Prediction
The Swans look to continue flying up the league when they welcome a Toffees team looking to spread their own wings
15:00 BST, Saturday 14th April, Liberty Stadium (Swansea, Wales)
Having climbed out of the relegation zone, Swansea are still arguably two wins away from reaching true safety this season. Carlos Carvalhal has helped the Swans achieve 4 consecutive home wins in the league and another this weekend would equal their best run in the top-flight since 1981. Without a win in any of their previous 3 matches, the Swans will need their form to return when they head out onto home soil this weekend.
Everton have already made themselves comfortable with Premier League football now assured for next season. This is despite suffering poor form on the road, however, a win in Wales would provide them their first back-to-back league victories since 2016. To achieve this they will need to topple a team they’ve failed to beat in any of their last 4 meetings though.
Last Time Out
West Bromwich Albion 1-1 Swansea City (Premier League)
Darren Moore’s first game in charge of the Baggies proved a hurdle too large for the Swans who came from behind to claim a hard-fought point. An uneventful first half should have seen Swansea enter the interval ahead but for André Ayew to have wasted a glorious chance for them to take an early lead.
However, Carvalhal had Lukasz Fabianski to thank for keeping his team in the game. Several important saves prevented West Brom scoring before Jay Rodriguez eventually broke the deadlock. Tammy Abraham scored his first goal since October to repair the damage but could not offer much more due to a succession of poor first touches of the ball. In Sam Clucas they look to have a player of both skill and industry and it was his assist which restored parity to the scoreboard. A poor display by the Swans did not merit a win over the League’s bottom-placed team and so a score-draw was perhaps a fitting result.
Everton 0-0 Liverpool (Premier League)
An uninspiring match produced a lifeless scoreline although the Toffees almost snatched victory at the last. Liverpool made extensive changes to their team between their two Champions League quarter-final ties but Everton could not capitalise.
There were mixed fortunes in the Everton midfield with Wayne Rooney rightfully being substituted following a poor performance but Morgan Schneiderlin fared far better. A poor season had left many supporters fearful of his inclusion in the team, however, he proved himself one of the Toffees best players.
Everton were toothless in attack, with Yannick Bolasie one of their biggest culprits as his influence quickly faded out of the game. A rousing end to the game by Cenk Tosun and Theo Walcott almost saw the home team snatch a late goal with all of Everton’s best scoring opportunities arriving in the final 10 minutes. Liverpool hung onto the draw and the match ended with many wishing Everton had shown more enterprise earlier in the game.
Swansea City Lineup
Angel Rangel (groin) Leroy Fer (Achilles) Renato Sanches (hamstring) and Wilfried Bony (ankle) again miss out for the Swans who will welcome back Jordan Ayew to the team following his recent suspension. There are doubts over the fitness of both Mike van der Hoorn (shoulder) and Sam Clucas (knock) for this match which could be a major blow for Carvalhal, however, both are believed to be ready for selection in time for this match.
Mason Holgate (ankle) Eliaquim Mangala (knee) James McCarthy (leg) and Gylfi Sigurdsson (knee) all remain unavailable, however, Idrissa Gueye has recovered from a muscular injury and will make a welcome return to the squad for Allardyce.
Key Battle: Jordan Ayew (Swansea City) vs Cenk Tosun (Everton)
While not a prolific striker this season, Jordan Ayew has been the Swans most consistent scorer since Carvalhal arrived in South Wales. Described this week by his manager as a “beautiful flower”, Ayew will hope to get straight back amongst the goals after serving his 3-game suspension for a straight red card against Huddersfield.
Wayne Rooney may have been directly involved in 9 goals from his last 8 appearances (4 goals, 5 assists) against the Swans, however, Tosun is Everton’s main weapon. The Turkish striker may have failed to score in the previous two games against Liverpool and Manchester City but he has claimed 4 goals from the 3 games which preceded those matches.
An ugly point
While many of Swansea’s fans would have hoped for much more from their visit to troubled West Brom last weekend, a draw was not necessarily a terrible result. With most of the teams stuck near the foot of the table failing to pick up wins, a point meant Swansea slowly inch their way further towards safety.
While they played football far from the slick, fluid style all fans crave, they dug deep to battle back into the game despite not being at their best. This trait is something teams like Southampton and Stoke can only dream of. While beautifully won points are something to aim for, Swansea’s ugly point last weekend could prove just as important when their points are counted up on the day of reckoning next month
While most managers plan for next season thinking about which areas of the squad need to be strengthened, Allardyce faces a more pressing need with his team. While more players are likely to arrive at Goodison Park this summer, they are also a team who drastically need to trim their wage bill.
Choosing which of his players to retain and which to move on will be the main focus of Everton’s summer transfer window. Not only have they got a larger squad than most other teams in the Premier League, they look likely to face fewer matches next season with European football almost impossible to achieve. The lack of form by several high-profile players will also make it harder for the Toffees to recoup their investments while they may also find that several players are unwilling to switch clubs in moves that will see them on lower salaries.
Prediction: Swansea City 2-0 Everton
Despite the protests of their fans regarding Allardyce’s perceived failure on Merseyside, Everton have been slowly improving lately. With safety achieved, Everton will look to build towards next season, however, Swansea’s home form and need for more points to make themselves safe could see Allardyce hit by another wave of on Saturday evening.