Thursday, 22 March 2012

Swansea City vs Everton: Safety matches!

The notion of “safety” in the Premier League seems a little irrelevant when Swansea City comfortably hold eighth position in the table.

Even so, the mathematicians among you (which, I suspect, is not that many) will want the added feeling of security that 40 points will bring and a win in Saturday's game against Everton will push Swansea into the desired “safe” zone.

The current team is looking more and more comfortable each week. I can't see much being changed this Saturday - the old cliché reads 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'. (Other clichés I enjoy include: 'stubborn as a mule', 'tip of the iceberg' and 'start from scratch' - all have probably featured heavily in this blog over the years.)

Nathan Dyer will be serving the last of his three-match ban for his red card at Wigan, leaving Wayne Routledge to once again fill in on the right wing. I guess “fill in” undermines him slightly as he's done so much more than just fill a hole. While arguably less skilful and certainly less speedy than Dyer, Routledge's delivery into the box has been superb and it's something that is definitely leading to goals.

Gylfi Sigurdsson is having an inspired few weeks and I wouldn't bet against him getting another goal or two in the game against Everton. He's certainly the player to permanently fill the Dobbie-role (now on loan to Blackpool until the end of the season) – if Swansea can raise the funds to sign him.

Ashley Williams is still not a certainty to start after missing out at Fulham due to sickness last weekend. We hope he returns, but I'm sure Monk would relish another starting appearance (and probably deserves it).

Before we get too caught up in getting the fourth win in a row, lest we forget Everton are still a “big” team. Despite now being below the Swans in the table (tenth), they're consistently a top-ten side and boast a number of impressive players and a good manager in Moyes.

Everton took all three points from Swansea in Goodison Park at Christmas time with a 1-0 win, but were unable to overtake the Swans in the table on Wednesday, when they lost 1-0 to Arsenal. In fact the Arsenal game marked the third in a row without a win, so they'll see Swansea as a route back to winning ways. I'm sure they'll be wary though – I don't think any team now feels Swansea is an easy three points, especially at the Liberty Stadium.

But who am I to analyse Everton? In a ForzaSwansea first, I've allowed another blogger to grace my blog. Here's some great analysis from Nic, writer at top Everton blog The Executioner's Bong:

Brendan Rodgers has rightly been lauded for the way Swansea have lightened up the top flight. The best thing about your style is that it shows you don’t have to play the direct, dour percentage football adopted by other sides that have come up.

Against a side who keeps the ball like you guys do there is perhaps a plan A and Plan B. ‘Plan A’ is to let you have the ball, conserve energy by only pressing when you approach 20 yards from our goal. Plan B is to stop you playing from the back. Given the small squad and the vital cup replay on Tuesday I’d doubt very much if Moyes would adopt an energy sapping tactic like Plan B and will instead adopt Plan A and look to stand off, narrow the passing angles to Swansea’s defenders and push them to play longer.

Moyes will certainly shuffle his pack for this one given the Arsenal game last night and the cup game next Tuesday. I’d expect Stracquilarsi, Anichebe and perhaps Gueye to get run outs given they all have good energy as we will probably spend a lot of time not in possession. Pienaar is cup tied for Tuesday so will probably start also. I’d imagine Cahill, Jelavic and possibly Drenthe will all be rested.

Our goal scoring record on the road is awful – less than one per game – so you probably only need the one goal to win it!

With that in mind, let's move to some bets! If you're planning to place a wager on the match, a few to cover are listed below:

Swansea are favourites at 5/4 so would be a good inclusion in any accumulator you have going this weekend. 'Sigurdsson to score first' is at 13/2 and probably worth covering as he is the man on fire at the moment.

My score prediction is 2-1 to Swansea, which is priced at 15/2. Nic says just one goal could win it for Swansea, and 1-0 to the home side is at 11/2 (all odds from PaddyPower)!

Thanks again to Nic and be sure to check out The Executioner's Bong for more analysis!

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