Date:Sunday December 22 2013
Sunday, December 22, 16:00
Everton ensured they will have a very Merry Christmas as the Toffees beat Swansea City 2-1 at Liberty Stadium. The first half was a very tight and cagey affair with chances virtually non-existent, it took a brilliant strike from 30yds from Seamus Coleman to break the deadlock, however, Everton only held the lead for 3mins as they conceded a sloppy Bryan Oviedo own goal. A Ross Barkley free kick 4mins from time was enough to give Everton the 3pts and saw them extend their unbeaten streak to 10 league games. The result saw Everton jump into the top 4 and are now only 2pts behind league leaders Liverpool entering the busy festive period.
Everton made 2 changes to the side that beat Fulham 4-1 last weekend with Mirallas and McCarthy coming in for the injured Deulofeu and Osman. Swansea made 5 changes to the side that drew with Norwich with Chico, Tremmel, Tiendalli, Routledge and Bony inserted into the starting line up.
The 1st half certainly was not one for the ages with both sides trying to implement their passing philosophy, the vast majority of the game in the 1st half was played between the two penalty boxes with both sides looking to dominate the possession during the game. Everton winger Kevin Mirallas was culpable of wasting a golden chance as he failed to play in Lukaku, instead the winger decided to take the shot himself and his shot was directed straight at Tremmel. Swansea failed to test Howard in the 1st half with Swansea's best chance falling to Bony, however the striker could only fire high and wide.
The 2nd half, the game began to open up slightly as both sides tried to find the opener. Everton were probably the ones looking most dangerous in attack and nearly opened the scoring, however as Ross Barkley was through on goal, the youngster could not keep his footing and like that, the chance was gone. Barkley was again involved in Everton's next chance and this time he came ever so close to breaking the deadlock. After a nice turn in midfield, Barkley surged forward, after beating one man the 20yr old decided to take a shot from just outside the box and his effort saw Tremmel push the ball onto the bar and over for a corner.
Everton continued to push for the opener and eventually they found it around the 65min mark courtesy of a terrific strike from Seamus Coleman. The Everton right back found himself in acres of space down the right wing and from 30yds out decided to take the shot, which probably caught Tremmel off guard as he was beaten at his near post. It was Coleman's 3rd goal in his last 5 games as he continued his impressive season.
Everton could not hold onto the lead for long, in fact, they held the lead for 3mins before Swansea equalised. Steven Pienaar failed to deal with a Ben Davies cross, and right back Tiendalli managed to sneak in and get a foot on the ball, it then unfortunately deflected off Oviedo and past the scrambling Howard to give Swansea the reply.
From then on, both sides huffed and puffed in an attempt to find a winner, but both sides really struggled to find that quality in the final third. However, Everton managed to find the winner, 4mins from time courtesy of a brilliant free kick from Ross Barkley. Davies gave away a cheap free kick about 20-25yds from the goal, normally one Leighton Baines would step up to take it, however with Baines out through injury it was Everton youngster Ross Barkley who stepped up, and much like Baines, made no mistake with the free kick whipping in a peach of a free kick to give Everton the lead.
With a few minutes left, Everton began to drop deep and absorb pressure as Swansea searched for an equaliser and they nearly found it courtesy of Hernandez as the Spaniard unleashed a stinging shot towards Howard, however the American was up to the task swatting the ball away. Howard was then called into action once again palming away a dipping Lamah shot. Swansea had one last chance in injury time to grab a point however substitute Alvaro failed to make contact with the ball as it was floated over the top of the Everton defence and it trickled harmlessly out for a goal kick.
The result extended Everton's unbeaten run to 10 games, and also meant Everton have only lost once in their first 17 league games this season. The 3pts also saw them leap into the top 4 and are now within striking distance of league leaders Liverpool. The performance wasn't great, but given the amount of games that will be played during the festive period, performances won't be at their best, and points are always more pleasing than performances. Ross Barkley once again showed his undoubted talent as he continues his break out season and his free kick has left Everton in a ridiculously strong position and given their next 3 fixtures over this festive period are Sunderland and Southampton at home followed by an away trip to Stoke on New Year's Day, it isn't exactly out of the question to see this Everton side top come the start of 2014. It is certainly shaping up to be a big couple days for Everton, and I am sure all Everton fans will be excited about the prospect of these games. COYB!!!!!
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Date:Sunday December 22 2013
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