Everton travel to the Liberty Stadium for Saturday's televised tea-time kick-off against Swansea City who were buoyant in the knowledge that their nearest rivals for relegation, Hull City, had just lost to relegated Sunderland.
With Morgan Schneiderlin still sidelined, Barkley and Valencia are dropped to the bench for this one, as Koeman shows some reaction to the Everton playmaker's laboured and rather moribund performance last weekend. Gareth Barry and Kevin Mirallas return to the starting line-up.
Everton started brightly, getting forward and putting a cross in from the left that Lukaku headed weakly toward Fabianski. They did well to keep the ball in Swansea's half for most of the opening plays, and seemed to be moving the ball around a little more quickly without Barkley's ponderous deliberation.
Swansea's first attack led to a corner off their former captain, Ashley Williams, that was defended well enough. The home side came into it more as Everton moves failed to get much beyond the half-way line before breaking down, and a log spell of pass-the-parcel took them precisely nowhere.
Mirallas did finally get forward, saw a little space, and shot at goal but it was defected out and ran for a corner that was delivered in well by Baines. Some better passing and great movement from Davies saw the ball fed waist-high to Lukaku, and handball. Mirallas ran well into the area but Holgate's cross was way too deep.
Davies fouled Ayew with Williams blocking, Sigurdsson stepping up from 40 yards, straight to Stekelenburg. Not very smart from the Icelandic genius! Some idiotic presumably Everton fan came on the field and went up to Lukaku to give him a big soppy hug before being escorted away... Sigurdsson appeared to go down easily but no penalty; however, the ball was played in to the far post by Ayew, with Stekelenburg stranded, where it was bundled in by Llorente, pushing Jagielka as he scored.
Swansea had their tails up and pushed the visitors back into their area, forcing Stekelenburg to punch a good cross, then winning a corner that was not fully cleared and Mawson seemed certain to score but for a desperate block by Holgate. Another good corner form Sigurdsson but this one was cleared as the blues rocked a little under the pressure.
The pressure was relieved a little but the Everton attack had not gotten forward meaningfully until Lukaku managed to pull a good ball back from the byeline that surprised Gana but he could do nothing with it and that set up another Swansea attack, with Olsson trying to score from a very narrow angle, winning another corner that went behind.
More laboured passing ended with a long cross-field pass from Williams being overhit well out of play. Barry tried to push them forward but everything was so static until Baines got space and crossed but Mawson was doing a good number on Lukaku. Mirallas was looking to drive in a shot again, but he was instantly crowded out.
Swansea won a late corner before the break that was wasted but the home side had the upper hand as Martin Atkinson blew his whistle. Barkley replaced Calvert-Lewin after the break but the early play did not show much improvement as Swansea quickly denied Barkley space to work his 'magic'.
Davies won a free-kick that Barkley swung in well but the Swansea defenders showed more desire to get their heads on the ball and clear it. After Swansea attacked the ball seemed to break for Barkley but there was too much for him to do and the home side went forward again, winning a corner that was recycled until Ayew's difficult shot hit the post with Stekelenburg again stranded.
Britton and Gueye both went for one of those horrible 50/50 balls, sliding in with their feet up... fortunately no-one hurt. The ball was played in to Swansea's area and Davies seemed close enough to convert but could not.
Everton were showing a little more invention and deire going forward but it was still nowhere near enough to alter the balance of the game, so Koeman decide that the presence of Enner Valencia was required in a further effort to raise the tempo, replacing Gareth Barry. But his first opportunity to make an impression was a crposs played straight to a defender's feet.
A chance did come Lukaku's way and he drove in a reasonable shot but Fabianski was down to cover. At the other end, header from a corner was goalbound until it hit Barkley and flew over. Llorente had a free header for the next corner, but Stekelenburg grasped it firmly.
Holgate won a corner, headed away but Davies got it back in for Mirallas who wanted an extra touch before shooting from close range. Any urgency, however, was completely lacking with slow build-up achieving nothing. Instead, Swansea attacked with pace, and Leroy Fer, juts on as a sub was denied only by good anticipation by Stekelenburg. Jonjoe Kenny finally got his first chance of the season, replacing Holgate for the last 15 mins.
Lukaku got fed nicely by Barkley and came inside but could only lash the ball into the side netting with his right foot. Into the final 10 mins and Everton finally started to increase the pace a little, A cross for Barkley skimming off his head, another cross from Kenny defended away, a distant shot from Baines flying over. Williams got annoyed with Llorente, throwing him down after he was barged into.
Some really good effort from Kenny, with only one intent, to get the ball in to Lukaku, but he was being marked too closely. A great free-kick from Barkley but Mirallas got too far ahead of it and Williams could not connect behind him.
Another corner after Keeny had saved it from being a goalkick, and a second corner, but hitting white shirts., Lukaku got wide and centered brilliantly and low but who was there? Mawson to clear. Another corner, but Valencia headed over at the end of time.
A third successive game with no goals, no desire, no intensity, no guile, no pressing, no drive... no nothing from far too many of these players for anything but a loss to be somewhat inevitable. Magnificent Seventh place secured; season over.
Scorers: Llorente (29')
Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Ki (75' Fer), Britton (73' Cork), Carroll, Sigurdsson, Ayew, Llorente (88' Borja).
Subs not Used: Amat, Baston, Nordfeldt, Narsingh, Kingsley.
Everton: Stekelenburg; Baines, A Williams, Holgate (78'Kenny), Jagielka; Gueye, Davies, Barry (65' Valencia); Mirallas, Lukaku, Calvert-Lewin (46' Barkley).
Subs not Used: Robles, Pennington, J Williams, Lookman.
Referee: Martin Atkinson
Everton travel to the Liberty Stadium for Saturday's televised tea-time kick-off against Swansea City.
Everton's away form has been problematic this season, to say the least, and a disappointing contrast to their far better home form, although they have managed draws in their last two games, away to Manchester United and West Ham United. Ronald Koeman has tried a number of different approaches to organizing his side but will not be helped by the continuing absence of Morgan Schneiderlin, who is still suffering from a thigh injury.
Mathematically, Everton approach the game with the increasingly remote possibility of finishing in 6th place at the end of the season, thus avoiding the early banana-skin third qualifying round of the Europa League. To do that, they really needed to have performed a lot better in recent games against Liverpool, West Ham and Chelsea, where only one point earned has seen them slide rapidly down off the top of the Premier League form table.
Could Joel Robles be set to return? Marteen Stekelenburg was less-than impressive against Chelsea and could have jeopardised his position in goal. However, neither keeper seems to be reliable enough but perhaps sufficient time has elapsed since that burst of madness saw Robles give up a really silly penalty against Burnley that cost him his place.
The defensive backline fought manfully for an hour to contain the far superior Chelsea players last weekend, and will be expected to continue, with Jonjoe Kenny still kicking his heels on the sidelines, waiting for his chance to make the step up. But Koeman has not even given him a minute of playing time as a sub, despite his presence on the bench for the last six games. It's as if the manager feels duty-bound to maintain the old guard of Baines, Jagielka and Williams in defence, with Mason Holgate being the only concession to youthful exuberance at the back.
Holgate has generally been very good in that role, but his crossing is not the best and Koeman continues not to play a real wide player in front of him, cutting Holgate's options significantly when he does go forward with the ball.
It seems Tom Davies and Idrissa Gana Gueye are now among the first names on the team sheet and will continue to form the heart of the side, but worrying mistakes have been creeping into the African's game with yellow cards in his last three appearances that have seen him pulled off at half-time in two of them.
Gareth Barry is being used less and less by Koeman, with fewer and fewer games where he has been partnered with Gueye from the start. It would be so refreshing to see Liam Walsh given an opportunity to provide a bit of guile and enthusiasm that has been so lacking at times in Everton's recent displays.
And then there is the perennial conundrum that is Ross Barkley. Despite going back inside his shell and resorting to the frustrating habits of earlier in the season, with fewer and fewer direct attempts on goal, he has continued to build up his remarkable assist stats — a total of 10 since he last sat out a kick-off, back on Boxing Day.
The other choices for supporting and manning Everton's attack, if you can call it that, remain bafflingly limited for Koeman, as none seem to be able to produce goals, apart from Romelu Lukaku, who may or may not turn up on Saturday, depending on mood. The others continue to be remarkably reluctant to shoot at goal, and, on the exceedingly rare occasions when they do, are shockingly wayward in terms of accuracy. Enner Valencia seems willing enough but has only scored when coming on as a sub.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin looks set to continue to be played out of position, but does not appear to be able to form any kind of meaningful linkage with Lukaku, while Kevin Mirallas has been really poor (apart from a hat-trick of assists against Leicester City). Perhaps time to brighten things up a little with some fresh young blood from the U-23s? But neither Kieran Dowell nor Harry Charsley have gotten near the first team this season and seem unlikely choices unless Koeman is really keen to reward them for a job well done in winning Premier League 2. It's more likely, however, that Ademola Lookman would be chosen ahead of either player.
Meanwhile, the Swans have their own much more pressing concerns, with the very real likelihood of relegation hanging over them as they sit in 18th place, 2 points adrift of resurgent Hull City and with little hope of catching Crystal Palace. So all the pressure will be on the home side to show the kind of spirit that overcame Stoke City in their last home match.
Since then, they were somewhat unjustly denied a victory at Old Trafford by the endemic biased refereeing that always seems to favour the top teams in the Premier League. But plenty of Blue eyes will be watching closely their star player, Gylfi Sigurdsson, who is an obvious target for improving Everton's midfield next season, especially if Paul Clement is unable to keep the Welsh side from dropping back down to The Championship after six seasons in the top flight.
Gylfi Sigurdsson's superb skill from dangerous set pieces remains a significant threat against either of Everton's leaden-footed keepers. The Iceland international curled a brilliant free-kick over the wall and into the top corner against De Gea at Old Trafford last weekend.
They do have the worst defence in the Premier League, however, with 69 goals conceded, so the odds should favour a side containing the league's leading contender for this season's Golden Boot award, provided the hunger is there for another flat-track bully performance from Lukaku to rebuild his value and prestige after massive missed opportunities to impress in front of the cameras in the recent big games.
It may not be all plain sailing for Koeman's men, who have seemed to relax noticeably given the certainty of a 7th place finish and qualification for Europe. Swansea, however, have become something of a bogie team in recent years, and are unbeaten in their last six encounters with the Blues over all competitions since a 3-2 loss in March, 2014.
Kick-Off: 17:30 on Saturday, 6 May 2017.
Last Time: Swansea City 0 - 0 Everton
Predicted Line-Up: Robles; Holgate, Williams, Jagielka, Baines; Gueye, Davies; Walsh, Barkley, Calvert-Lewin; Lukaku.
Referee: Martin Atkinson