Everton 3 - 2 Swansea City

We thought we’d get there a little early to catch the Chelsea vs Arsenal match and so we’re a bit flummoxed to get to the pub and find the match was over after 17 minutes with Chelsea 3-0 ahead and Arsenal down to 10 men with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain... I mean Kieran Gibbs given his marching orders.

It was a good laugh and a good turn out in the pub with Ste, Gaz, Gary, Sue and Mike all present. We got the team news in the boozer. Barkley and McGeady in for Osman and Deulofeu with Tim Howard captaining the side. What do you make of goalkeepers as captains? It’s not for me purely because of the inability to communicate regularly with the rest of the team from where he is and being unable to discuss decisions with referees. Bony lead the line for Swansea City with Michu on the substitutes bench. Everton won the toss and attacked the Park End in the first half. Michael Oliver officiated.

Swansea took us on straight from the first whistle with Bony having two shots inside the first 30 seconds… the first straight at Howard, the second dragging wide of the post when he could have done better. Everton did eventually settle however, albeit unconvincingly. Actually, had it not been for a penalty, you wondered where the goal would have come from in the first half. We didn’t exactly look like scoring until Barkley broke following either a magnificent Stones pass or a lucky clearance… I suspect the latter myself. Barkley ran into the box and was taken down by Chico Flores. Oliver pointed to the spot with Baines dispatching the penalty with aplomb. 1-0 to Everton.

With only 20 minutes on the clock Swansea had plenty of time left to get back into the game and they carried on about their business in much the same fashion and got their reward when Rangel’s low cross was put in by Bony from close range. 1-1 and you had to say Swansea deserved it.

The remainder of the half was just unbearable and we were fortunate not to be trailing at the break. Swansea won I-don’t-know-how-many corners though thankfully Everton managed to keep the door shut and got into the changing room level… with a couple of boos ringing in their ears. They’ll have known they needed to improve.

Improve they did at the beginning of the second half but in typical Everton style we managed to make it difficult for ourselves despite having the luxury of a two goal cushion. Lukaku put us 2-1 ahead when he finished from close range following an exquisite centre from Mirallas… all of which began with a good, strong tackle by Distin. As Lukaku ran at goal the roar and encouragement from the crowd was quite incredible and you just knew we were somehow to find the net.

Just five minutes later it was 3-1 when Barkley took advantage of rather dreadful Swansea marking from an Everton corner. You had a sense of “game over” when that one went in but this wasn’t quite the case. Everton took their foot of the gas at 3-1 and with Swansea, aided by their substitution reinforcements, piled on the pressure and but for Captain Howard might have gotten back into the game sooner.

As it transpired we only had to withstand a nervy two minutes or so after Ashley Williams had made the score 3-2 with a header from a corner kick but thankfully Everton had enough to get over the line for another welcome three points – our third league win in a row and our eighth consecutive home win (including the FA Cup win over QPR). On the flipside we haven’t won away in the league for exactly three months… something we’ll have to remedy and quickly with two consecutive away fixtures next week.

Up to 5th in the table. Let’s keep on climbing.

Player Ratings:

Howard: Captained the side and it seemed to bring the best out of him as he made some excellent crucial saves to keep Swansea out. 8

Baines: My Man of the Match. Took his penalty well and had a very good game, particularly defensively. 8

Distin: Not at his best but did make some good tackles, one particularly important one which resulted in our crucial second goal. 6

Stones: Did pretty well. I like the way he tries to play the ball out from the back… like Distin also had a hand in one of the goals with his clearance / pass to Barkley prior to our penalty. 7

Coleman: He did OK. I’m still waiting and hoping he can get back to his dazzling pre-injury form. 6

Barry: Usual consistent Barry. Always there with the tackles and possession retention in the middle. 6

McCarthy: I’d like to see him take a bit more responsibility with carrying the ball forward as he tends to keep things very simple in the middle and is capable of more. Always handy in the tackle though and provides a lot of energy in the midfield. 6

Mirallas: The stats will show two assists (unless Lukaku got something on his corner kick) and it was a great ball in for Lukaku’s goal but, as is often the case, he looked a little disinterested for periods of the match. It’s a shame as he is very talented and is capable of so much more. 6

McGeady: Very good. Very promising. Not everything he tried worked but he was full of skill and trickery throughout and kept them occupied. Impressive and is beginning to look a decent signing. 7

Barkley: Will hopefully benefit from the goal as his confidence seems a little low at the moment. He currently seems to dip in and out of games and needs to find that consistency. Perhaps he’s showing a few signs of fatigue as the season wears on. 6

Lukaku: Got a goal and that’s three in four games; if he keeps up that form we’ll all be delighted of course but he does seem to drift through games at times. Still, more goals from him next week could make a big difference to our season. 6

Naismith (for Barkley): Not on long but put the effort in. 6

Osman (for McGeady): Not on long but was pretty poor with the ball with what he did have to do

. 4

Deulofeu (for Lukaku): Sent on to waste time and run the clock down. He did just that with a good dribble deep into their penalty area in the last action of the match. 6

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Julian Wait
457 Posted 22/03/2014 at 21:58:44
I like Stones, he's got quality, just needs to get rid more often when he's last man or in trouble ...
Patrick Murphy
458 Posted 22/03/2014 at 22:03:18
Is it just me being a bit thick – but I notice in most reports from today's games that they are saying things such as "Everton move into Europa League spot" when I believed due to Man City's League Cup triumph that 6th place was good enough for Europa. The BBC's league table also only has 5th as a Europa qualifying place. Have I got it horribly wrong or have the various outlets missed something?
Patrick Murphy
459 Posted 22/03/2014 at 22:06:35
When Jags gets back in the team, I would consider playing Stones at right-back and moving Seamus up the pitch.

1) To make sure that the youngster gets as much match experience as possible; and 2) To try and get Coleman out of his current reluctance to overlap and go to the bye-line.

Chris Owens
461 Posted 22/03/2014 at 22:27:52
Patrick (458),
I believe 6th place will be good enough for Europa League qualification only if Manchester City finish in the top 4. It's probably not mathematically certain yet that they will.
Patrick Murphy
462 Posted 22/03/2014 at 22:31:01
Cheers Chris that makes sense – mind you, if Man City somehow failed to get 4th place or above we perhaps wouldn't have to worry about Europa.
Matt Woods
463 Posted 22/03/2014 at 22:44:11
That Dino Zoff fella did ok...
Paul Ferry
580 Posted 23/03/2014 at 14:41:01
I agree about the goalie/skipper quandry PT. One thing that occurred to me, however, was that somewhere in the scheme of things a decision was made that Leighton Baines is not skipper material – either by his goodself, our good manager, or our good players – as he filled these boots a couple of weeks ago.

Sort of confirms my view of LB although I do have to add the caveat that his new film noir hair-do is a big improvement on his Seattle look.

Alex Trevalyn
595 Posted 23/03/2014 at 15:40:31
Mr Ferry, I don't know if you remember but a couple of months ago on the live forum, I posted I was off to Belize for a spot of jungle warfare training and you wished me well and be safe, could not reply! But thank you meant a lot!! Back home now with a great tan and a shit load of money to blow!
Jack Molloy
622 Posted 23/03/2014 at 17:19:48
I would have thought the obvious choice of captain would be Distin and failing that Barry. Failing that, I'd give it to Coleman. Goalkeepers can read the game and can be effective leaders behind the scenes but can't communicate outside of their box effectively. Howard in particular isn't cool-headed enough to do the job.
Mike Gaynes
779 Posted 24/03/2014 at 14:12:34
I've just never much cared for the idea of a keeper as captain. When the team needs the "kick up the backside" that Wayne mentions, it should generally be somebody who can deliver it in the middle of the action, not from 80 yards away in the back. The only keepers I've ever seen with powerful enough presence to pull it off have been Schmeichel, Chilavert of Paraguay, Buffon and the aforementioned Zoff of Italy, and Kahn and Maier of Germany. But those were all guys with such dominating personalities that their teams naturally looked to them for leadership. There are very few keepers in that category.

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