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Though many favour giving Tom Davies the nod, James McCarthy is the likely replacement for the suspended Gareth Barry
Evertonians — well, this one at the very least — bade a not-so-fond adieu this past week to the final interruption to their club's attempts to gather some momentum in the Premier League as World Cup qualifying and meaningless, premature friendlies exit stage left until March.
Everton's players may have had their international commitments to distract them from the 5-0 defeat at Chelsea last time out but, for Blues fans, it's been a long fortnight to stew over what was a comprehensive mauling by a team that was unrecognisable from the derided mob that eventually cost Jose Mourinho his job this time last year.
Ronald Koeman was right when he emphasised that his team got the same number of points for the defeat as they would have had they only lost by a single goal's margin but he was equally on point when he described the result as “unacceptable” in his pre-match press conference yesterday.
“You can lose but not in the way we lost, not even against Chelsea and how strong they were that day,” the Dutchman told the media. “We made it too easy for them but I am really optimistic we will get a very good reaction this Saturday."
Everton certainly need a reaction, one that speaks to the pain and humiliation that Tom Cleverley's comments suggest the players were feeling as they trudged off the pitch at Stamford Bridge and the matchup they have been handed for their attempt at a riposte is a favourable one.
Swansea City come to Merseyside with their new manager denying they are a club in crisis but their return thus far of a single victory and their lowly position of joint-bottom of the Premier League alongside a similarly chaotic Sunderland would seem to indicate that a crisis is certainly looming unless results improve.
Bob Bradley's introduction to English football hasn't been the stuff of fairytales and he has managed to pick up just one point in four games since assuming the helm at the Liberty Stadium as the somewhat controversial appointment of the Swans' new American owners.
Swansea put up a spirited but vain fight in his first match at the Emirates where they lost 3-2 but successive 3-1 defeats to Stoke City away and Manchester United at home have underscored the size of the job ahead of Bradley and his team.
It means that Everton will have few excuses if they can't get back to winning ways against the kind of opposition they should be beating. Koeman's side are unbeaten at home since he took over and, the frustrating draw with Crystal Palace apart, they have been doing the business on home turf. That bodes well for a game that offers the Blues a chance to get back onto the coat-tails of the top five, depending on how results go elsewhere this weekend.
It's likely to be an emotional occasion for Ashley Williams who meets his old club for the first time since he left them for a new challenge over the summer. He departed Goodison on the winning side back in January having helped Swansea beat Everton in a league match for the first time ever but this time he will be aiming to reverse the teams' fortunes in what is almost certain to be his 10th start for the Blues.
And he looks set to be reunited in defence with Leighton Baines for the first time in two months in what is likely to be a reversion by Koeman to a flat back four after the left back completed his lengthy layoff with a hamstring injury. With Seamus Coleman a lock for the other fullback slot, it means that the manager will have to choose between Phil Jagielka and Ramiro Funes Mori — the former's seniority, status as captain and fewer miles logged on his return from international duty might all combine to ensure he gets the nod.
Koeman is forced into another change in midfield as Gareth Barry serves a one-game ban for accumulating five bookings but Idrissa Gueye is back from his own suspension and James McCarthy's availability following a hamstring strain of his own could see him slot into Barry's place alongside the Senegal international at Tom Cleverley's expense. Many fans would prefer that Tom Davies, the stand-out performer in yellow at Chelsea after coming on as a second-half substitute, but McCarthy would be better bet based on the preference for experience Koeman has demonstrated so far.
Whether there are other changes further forward surely depends on how much Koeman wants to shake things up from a fortnight ago. Kevin Mirallas was the man sacrificed to accommodate a five-man defence but he added precious little to an anaemic attacking display by Everton after being introduced before half-time. Even though he has been talking up the need to step up his performances in recent days, Gerard Deulofeu has flattered to deceive, while Aaron Lennon has looked decidedly ordinary on most of his outings so far.
It suggests that Koeman could opt for more of the same again this week and, presumably, challenge his erratic forward line to prove they're worthy of regular selection.
There's a sense — or perhaps just a hope — that somewhere along the line, this Everton side is going to wallop some unsuspecting team and that, if it's going to happen, it could be against the likes of struggling Swansea. By the same token, Koeman has yet to get the team firing on all cylinders playing consistently effective joined-up football and it may be that fans should focus on victories, however they come for now, while the Dutchman searches for the right blend.
Kick-off 3pm, Saturday 19th November 2016
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Last time: Everton 1 - 2 Swansea City
Predicted Line-up: Stekelenburg, Coleman, Williams, Jagielka, Baines, Gueye, McCarthy, Barkley, Mirallas, Bolasie, Lukaku
Full details: ToffeeWeb match page
Reader Comments (67)
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1 Posted 18/11/2016 at 08:41:10
2 Posted 18/11/2016 at 09:46:03
I note that we are widely being laid at 20s to make top four and for 'super-pessimists' 1000 /1 is on offer against relegation.
7/2 is the best offer available on a top six finish and I have managed to negotiate 2/1 for my favoured top seven come May. (Money for old rope!)
Place your bets!
3 Posted 18/11/2016 at 09:48:31
Mirallas has been the biggest disappointment this searson so far but I wouldn't be surprised to see him get a goal in this game. I'd rather see Bolasie on the left and Lennon on the right. 3-0.
4 Posted 18/11/2016 at 10:14:18
5 Posted 18/11/2016 at 10:40:21
That's my guess... am I wrong? I really hope the players have a different mindset to you.
6 Posted 18/11/2016 at 10:58:36
7 Posted 18/11/2016 at 11:24:14
Because if he has a spell, and all strikers have them, when he doesn't score, who the hell is going to take his place? Neither of our wingers have been regular scorers, and the midfield doesn't produce many goals either.
The question is: Are we set up just to provide goals for one man, or do the rest of the team lack the quality in front of goal? Whatever the answer is, then we need to change something so we are not so reliant on one man.
8 Posted 18/11/2016 at 12:07:03
Not the most positive of guys when it comes to Everton, are you, Peter! I'll be positive and predict a win. Might be wrong like -– ops, it's catching.
A couple from our Rom will do me.
9 Posted 18/11/2016 at 12:15:41
10 Posted 18/11/2016 at 12:27:01
11 Posted 18/11/2016 at 12:49:13
12 Posted 18/11/2016 at 13:11:03
13 Posted 18/11/2016 at 13:19:37
14 Posted 18/11/2016 at 13:29:43
Robles (last game a cleansheet)
Coleman, Williams, Holgate, Baines
Dowell, Barkley, Bolasie
See how youth responds to watching the senior team repeatedly shoot themselves in the foot.
15 Posted 18/11/2016 at 13:37:50
16 Posted 18/11/2016 at 13:39:03
17 Posted 18/11/2016 at 13:41:19
Even at 10/1 I wouldn't bet on Davies starting, nevermind my whole teamsheet.
18 Posted 18/11/2016 at 13:48:13
Deulofeu has to play; Robles is better than Stekelenburg; Galloway should be brought back and given a game; we should have bought Shaqiri.
19 Posted 18/11/2016 at 14:18:39
That said, he can prove me wrong or the team will lift his game up. Looking at our team, it's a great time to play against Swansea at Goodison Park. COYB.
20 Posted 18/11/2016 at 14:48:04
21 Posted 18/11/2016 at 15:23:37
22 Posted 18/11/2016 at 15:48:12
Coleman Jagielka Williams Oviedo
Deulofeu Barkley Bolasie
Robles, Funes Mori, Baines, Davies, McCarthy, Mirallas, Valencia.
I'd give Oviedo at least a half, and bring Baines on early in the second half... Ease him back in.
Deulofeu deserves a start, Mirallas hasn't done much with his string of games.
On a side note – I think we should look at Dembele from Celtic as a striker target in the summer window... Looks very promising & still very young.
23 Posted 18/11/2016 at 15:56:26
24 Posted 18/11/2016 at 16:07:39
25 Posted 18/11/2016 at 16:18:15
That has been the problem for years – there isn't a goalscorer in midfield with the exception of Mirallas and he seems to have dried up since deciding to please the manager and run around like a headless chicken.
I will be very disappointed if Stekelenburg starts after his atrocious showing in the last two games but, apart from that, I think we all know the team picks itself.
26 Posted 18/11/2016 at 16:19:51
Peter (#20) – "I have been an Evertonian far too long, 60+ years, to let a silly little thing like misguided optimism distort my thought processes."
What's distorted them, then?! Like you, I have been a blue for over 60 years. So you missed the successful years? Or you don't like to think of them? "Misguided optimism" – Bali is such a lovely place but you never seem to have a positive thought in your head.
Come on Everton, do it for Peter!
27 Posted 18/11/2016 at 16:37:40
28 Posted 18/11/2016 at 17:02:20
30 Posted 18/11/2016 at 19:31:56
I am going to find the Swansea players who have never scored a goal at any level and get a couple of quid on them scoring! Let's face it, how many times does that happen? Some unknown scroat who couldn't hit Kim Kardashian's arse with a tennis bat, manages to get a goal against us!
31 Posted 18/11/2016 at 19:50:39
32 Posted 18/11/2016 at 20:09:27
33 Posted 18/11/2016 at 20:22:14
No-one from that shaming at Chelsea deserves to be safe. This is an opportunity for our coach to be bold. Give some lad a chance!
34 Posted 18/11/2016 at 20:55:09
I don't care what the doubters have said previously about him. No-one captains the Spanish U21s and is their top scorer to boot without having a special something.
He's the all time top scorer with 16 goals in 32 games. In the top 10 goal scorer list come names such as Raul and Morata... Previous captains like Thiago... Xavi...
He needs a run of Premier League games and to show what he is more than capable of.
35 Posted 18/11/2016 at 21:20:08
36 Posted 18/11/2016 at 21:46:01
37 Posted 18/11/2016 at 22:04:18
He's more than earned a chance and I think tomorrow's game would be ideal.
38 Posted 18/11/2016 at 22:22:48
39 Posted 18/11/2016 at 22:48:58
40 Posted 18/11/2016 at 23:00:07
Slate the manager as much as you want – it's about time these lads got their act together and did what they're paid to do – win matches.
41 Posted 18/11/2016 at 23:01:50
I would also give Robles a chance.
42 Posted 18/11/2016 at 23:13:52
I hope that he'll give Tom Davies a start; like many, I think tomorrow's match is perfect for him. With McCarthy just coming back from injury, there is no need to risk him against a team who we should comfortably beat.
Baines straight back in and Robles deserves a start also.
43 Posted 18/11/2016 at 23:42:13
Everton's problems have been in midfield and, with Ross being up and down with his form, we never know what the next game will bring.
Luckily Gana is back and Baines so there may be better options with the offence but it always helps if you can get an early goal... If that ''early'' goal is a winning one in the 89th minute, I will take it.
44 Posted 18/11/2016 at 23:42:53
45 Posted 19/11/2016 at 03:12:46
Oh and I do remember when we were successful – that's why I am so disappointed with what we are now and how the team hardly ever even seems to try.
46 Posted 19/11/2016 at 04:04:21
47 Posted 19/11/2016 at 07:09:55
48 Posted 19/11/2016 at 08:51:46
49 Posted 19/11/2016 at 08:55:14
Soups? Heinz Cream of Tomato will do me.
50 Posted 19/11/2016 at 09:05:29
52 Posted 19/11/2016 at 09:09:09
The airport was always known as Denpasar then (don't know about now) -– in fact I think the airport code was officially based on Denpasar?
53 Posted 19/11/2016 at 09:11:10
54 Posted 19/11/2016 at 09:29:27
55 Posted 19/11/2016 at 09:32:16
But Bali being mainly Hindu its not so easy for Muslims to get away with things. Like I said it was a long time ago when you were here the beaches are all sand now. Oh and Sanur is calm it has a reef just offshore and Bedugul is a lake in the mountains.
56 Posted 19/11/2016 at 09:36:55
57 Posted 19/11/2016 at 09:44:12
What about that bet you offered me, that he would be in the top assists this season? I offered you Mirallas with him.
They have both proved that they are not the players we can count on. It's a good job you didn't take it on!
59 Posted 19/11/2016 at 10:39:50
For all it's pain, it's marvellous being a Blue – especially on 3:00pm Saturday kick-offs... wonderful.
“From a little spark may burst a flame... as one who sees in dreams and wakes to find the emotional impression of his vision still powerful while its parts fade from his mind" – so said Dante on his way to Paradise... just like us good souls on our way with fellow Loved Ones on our way To Blue Heaven.
All written before I have had a pint at TDH.
62 Posted 19/11/2016 at 11:15:35
63 Posted 19/11/2016 at 11:24:19
I'm taking a couple of mates and one is taking his little lad for his first Goodison experience. I'M as nervous as anyone!
I just so want him to enjoy the game and see us win... so if anyone sees an excited 7-year-old in Row NN in the Main Stand, it'll be him. I'll be in the Lower Gwladys biting my nails.
64 Posted 19/11/2016 at 11:44:16
66 Posted 19/11/2016 at 12:23:03
67 Posted 19/11/2016 at 12:28:34
68 Posted 19/11/2016 at 13:01:18
I'm pretty sure he has managed a draw and to go with the 3 losses so we aren't set up to save his hide this time. Honestly we have to beat this team by two clear goals, they suck and are playing awful. Take it right to them.
Cheers to George McKane, great post. I hope the post-match, and post-pint, sentiments are even rosier!
69 Posted 19/11/2016 at 13:16:38
70 Posted 19/11/2016 at 13:29:29
72 Posted 19/11/2016 at 14:23:27
Subs: Joel, Deulofeu, Mirallas, Cleverley, Valencia, Funes Mori, Holgate.
73 Posted 19/11/2016 at 14:40:18
75 Posted 19/11/2016 at 19:29:54
It looks like the January window can't come quick enough for us. We need some quality players in ASAP. I think the young lads like Davies and Holgate need a run out too.
Koeman has a huge job on his hands, let's back him and hope Moshiri opens his wallet in January!!!