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Venue: Liberty Stadium, Swansea
Premier League
 Saturday 19 September 2015; 3:00pm
0 0
Half Time: 0-0
Attendance: 20,805
Fixture 6
Referee: Stuart Attwell

Match Report

In the wake of Everton's impressive 3-0 win at Southampton last month, Romelu Lukaku was in bullish mood declaring that, with a full pre-season behind him, he was both physically and mentally ready to put what was a disappointing 2014-15 campaign behind him.

Though he struggled for service in the ensuing Premier League games against Tottenham and Manchester City, he struck twice against Barnsley in the League Cup and played an important, if under-appreciated, role in last weekend's demolition of Chelsea.

That seemed to signal that the Belgian had rediscovered the hunger that typified his breakout season on loan at West Bromwich Albion and his first year with Everton during which, with his flying dreadlocks, seemingly fearless approach and a flurry of goals, he earned a nickname from some quarters of The Beast.

He certainly lived up to that monicker at the St Mary's five games ago but today, when the Blues needed the Lukaku that persuaded Roberto Martinez to shatter the club's transfer record, the "beast mode" Romelu was frustratingly absent.

As the 2-2 draw with Leicester at Goodison last season demonstrated, of which this personal performance from Lukaku was very reminiscent, strikers have off-days; matches where things just don't quite click. Perhaps this was one of those occasions for the former Anderlecht player, a day when his killer instict temporarily deserted him... although it has to be said he generally seemed to lack conviction all day, particularly in areas where he is so often clinical.

Frustratingly, Everton just needed either him or Arouna Kone to get it right once. Martinez's back line had effectively stifled what can be a very enterprising Swansea side one which had put Manchester United to the sword here at the Liberty Stadium in its last home outing for much of the contest and were growing in confidence in the second half. It all seemed to be leading up to the one crucial breakthrough that likely would have handed the Blues all three points, but it never arrived.

It wasn't for the want of trying or for the guile and imagination in breaking down stubborn defences that was so often lacking last season. Ross Barkley, all dazzling feet and constant probing, laid gilt-edged opportunities at the feet of both strikers but Kone froze when contact with either foot would surely have resulted in a goal and Lukaku could only shoot straight at Lukas Fabianski; Gareth Barry's beautifully-weighted pass put the Belgian in down the channel but he hammered a right-foot shot high into the stands; and, later, Gerard Deulofeu's trickery ended with a teasing ball straight across the box that Steven Naismith was a hair too late in anticipating and it just eluded his out-stretched foot.

Brendan Galloway, meanwhile, almost became the unlikely hero by capping another outstanding performance with a brilliant goal early in the second half. The 19-year-old, who was positively Leighton Baines-esque in the amount of time he spent pushing forward down the left flank, escaped the close attentions of two Swansea defenders with a neat drag back but, agonisingly, pulled his shot across the face of goal and just wide of the far post.

Had that gone in, it would have been reward for the Blues' strong start to the second period after they'd drawn the home side's fire during a tightly-contested first period in which the effectiveness of all of Jefferson Montero, Andre Ayew, Gylfi Sigurdsson and Jonjoe Shelvey was gradually nullified by an excellent Everton rearguard. John Stones, a player for whom observers might soon run out of superlatives, was the stand-out performer with another exhibition of staggeringly composed and effective defending but Tim Howard was effective when called upon and the two young fullbacks, Galloway and Tyias Browning, belied their comparative lack of experience with hugely impressive individual performances.

Indeed, it was Browning, playing instead of the injured Seamus Coleman, who restricted Montero to just a handful of dangerous moments on Swansea's left and the combination of Galloway and Phil Jagielka shut down the threat from Ayew, while Barry and James McCarthy were relentless in closing down the space on which Shelvey and Sigurdsson thrive. And when they did manage to feed Bafetimbi Gomis up front, Howard was on hand to smother a well-struck half-volley from the Frenchman, see a shot by the same player past his right-hand post following an almost catastrophic back header by Barry and parry away his powerful effort in the second half. He also batted a stinging drive from Montero behind for a corner.

As the better side overall, Everton should have won, though and completed what would have been an almost perfect away performance. The fact that only two of their 17 shots were on target told the story, however, and it underscored the gamble that Martinez took in first ruling out buying another striker this past summer and then, having changed his mind, finished the window without having added a reliable, experienced marksman to the squad. The question of what happens if Lukaku gets injured or, like today, just isn't at the races in front of goal should not really have been left to chance.

It's true that most Blues would have taken a point before the game but in the final reckoning it was an opportunity to pick up three that was spurned. Nevertheless, Kevin Mirallas' late red card for a sloppy studs-up challenge on Modou Barrow aside, it was a hugely encouraging outing in a season that is yet young, not least because Barkley continued his upward trajectory following last season's fall from relative grace. Driving from his slightly withdrawn role, he was a box of tricks who wriggled out of seemingly impossible situations at times while at others he would appear to have snookered himself with Peter Beagrie-esque over-elaboration, only to glide past his man with ease.

In that sense, therefore, the boon to his confidence, that of Browning and Galloway and, by extension, the team as a whole might ultimately mean that his goalless affair and the solitary point Everton earned from it comes to represent a lot more in the long run.

Lyndon Lloyd

Matchday Updates

Steven Naismith started for Everton against Swansea following his perfect hat-trick that destroyed Chelsea last week. Tyias Browning made his full league début, preferred at right-back with Ramiro Funes Mori staying on the bench, where Mirallas and Deulofeu once again awaited their chances.

Coleman was ruled out injured with a hamstring problem, as was Mo Besic. Others still on the lengthy injury list were Baines, Pienaar, Hibbert, Cleverley, and Oviedo, although Gibson returned to be among the subs for the first time this season.

Swansea kicked off but Everton soon gained possession and started to control the pace of the game. Browning fouled Montero early on, allowing Swansea to press, Montero getting around Browning to cross but the move ended with Ayew catching Jagielka on the back of the head and sustaining a bloody nose.

Everton tried to draw Swansea out with some patient tippy-tappy but then switched to a couple of longer balls in an effort to change things. Lukaku ended up losing possession trying to hold up the ball, but Everton got it back and looked to play some neat passing that eventually won a good free-kick opportunity when Naismith was fouled on the edge of the dee. Lukaku's curler was headed away for a corner.

From a second corner, Everton pressed hard, Barkley fizzing in a great cross that Williams stretched to clear, and Jagielka headed the next Barkley corner just over.

Swansea attacked down their right and Gomis had a good first-time strike, fortunately straight at Howard. Gomis then got a gift off a poor Barry header but drove his shot wide. Swansea had successfully upped the pace, winning their first corner after good switch of play.

A tremendous break down the right should have ended better with Naismith taking an extra touch rather than shooting and getting blocked. Everton needed to defend as Swansea complained about incidents that were nothing.

Stones went down with a knee injury after a clip from Jack Cork and Swansea were annoyed when the game was stopped. Everton needed to play more possession but McCarthy played the ball out needlessly, and Galloway then produced a foul throw, as the game became increasingly scrappy, which favoured the home side.

Galloway won a free-kick after a good Naismith pass and from the set-piece, Naismith fired in, Lukaku deflecting it straight to Fabianski. Kone was controling the ball well and almost played in Jagielka for a cross. More good attacking play from Everton saw Lukaku cross in but straight to Fabianski.

Everton re-exerted more control but the Swans sat back and took most of the slow build-up play in their stride. Some really intricate stuff preceded a poor shot skied by Kone. Barkley made a good run and fed Lukaku whose wicked shot was glanced over by an outstretched leg. Another Barkley corner was played in well but nothing developed from it.

Everton were passing it well and looking to build through the middle until Lukaku was too easily dispossessed, and another spell of scrappy play at least gave the home crowd something to shout about but the rare Swansea attack ended in an Everton goalkick.

Everton had controlled the game superbly at times but repeated sloppiness, especially from McCarthy needed sharp defensive work. Cork clipped Kone cynically but the referee played on as Everton attacked. At the next stoppage, 5 minutes later, Cork was booked. Good refereeing.

Swansea got an advantage when Naismith fouled Ayew and Shelvey curled the free-kick in but Everton defended away again, having dominated the half and contained the Swansea threat very well, Browning doing better and better at thwarting Montero.

Everton resumed after the break but it was Swansea who put together the first attack, Montero's cross being met by Ayew and Gomis, who got in eachother's way.

Barkley did well to fire in a brilliant cross that Kone with goal gaping somehow missed completely. Galloway then created his own great chance after brilliant work by Barkley but drove past the far post when perhaps a cross to the middle might have been the better choice if any of the strikers had thought about a tap-in. But great confidence from the lad.

A superb play by Swansea would have seen an easy goal but for the brilliant defending of John Stones, who played it out well with a casual side-foot ball forward to Barry who played in Lukaku perfectly but an utterly shocking attempt saw the ball fly high and wide off the foot of the big man. Best chance so far squandered.

Everton put themselves under pressure when Barkley was dispossessed and Barry almost gave away a penalty. Sigurdsson tried to force the free-kick in at the near post but Howard was all over it as the side netting rippled.

A chance for a break was played a little too slow but almost saw Lukaku convert after Barkley's shot was blocked and careened toward the Belgian at the far post. However, he waited for the bounce rather than attacking the ball and any chance was gone. The hour mark and surely time for Mirallas or Deulofeu to give Everton a different dimension? Instead it was Monk bringing Ki on for Sigurdsson.

Browning and Montero went at it again, Montero seemed beaten but somehow turned and fired in a shot that needed pushing over by Howard. The game was a bit more open now, with both sides seeing the need for a higher intensity. More good defending needed from Everton before Deulofeu replaced Kone.

Gomis got forward and seemed to have a clear chance but Howard was well positioned to pat it down. Galloway was called upon to defend and floored Kyle Naughton, but fairly, said referee Bassett, much to Swansea's chagrin.

Deulofeu's first involvement was brilliance at the level of Ronaldo himself, fantastic stepovers and a pinpoint cross that just needed a touch from the incoming Lukaku and Naismith. Galloway then had a great shot blocked, likewise Barkley as tremendous Everton pressure again brought no reward.

Browning got booked for a nothing tackle from behind on Montero. Barkley again did brilliantly to feed the feet of Lukaku in a glorious position but yet again he thought it better to employ a pathetic first touch rather than dominate the ball and lash it goalwards.

Everton had almost completely controlled the game with some really confident and dominating play but the inability to convert chances could cost them dear despite some fantastic defending, with Stones imperious, the most fitting description.

Deulofeu switched sides but lost the ball before then playing it to Naismith in a crowd and he could not get his effort on target after a swift turn. Again, brilliant work from Barkley but he could not dig out a shot, with Galloway doing well, although a little hesitant and needing quicker decision-making to beat a solid Swansea defence.

Deulofeu did another trademark dance to the byeline and low cross but too close to Fabianski. With time ticking away, Swansea pushed forward but Shelvey could only sky his shot. Mirallas was given the impossible task, replacing the superb Barkley in added time, as Barrow beat Galloway but again the Everton defense made sure Howard was not exposed.

Everton were under a little pressure at the end, both Galloway and Browning doing the Row Z clearances, and Howard needing to come out to deny Ki. Mirallas felt the need to get involved and got a straight red from his first play for going over the ball and onto a defender's ankle. From the free-kick, Ki almost scored, firing over.

Total domination from Everton, it's hard to convey exactly how they controlled so many aspects of this game... except the most important one... FINISHING!

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Fernandez, Williams, Taylor, Cork [Y:45'], Shelvey, Ayew [Y:80'] (87' Barrow), Sigurdsson (60' Ki Sung-Yueng), Montero, Gomis (81' Eder).
Subs not Used: Nordfeldt, Rangel, Bartley, Routledge.

Everton: Howard, Galloway, Stones, Jagielka, Browning [74'], Barry [Y:55'], McCarthy, Naismith, Barkley (90+1' Mirallas [R:90+2']), Kone (65' Deulofeu), Lukaku.
Subs not Used: Robles, Funes Mori, Gibson, Osman, Lennon.

Referee: Stuart Attwell

Attendance: 20,805

Michael Kenrick

From My Seat: Swansea City (A)

A trip down the spine of Wales to play our only league game outside our own country on a summer like day and we only needed a win to complete a cracking day out. When the teams came through it showed that Coleman and Besic had not made it so youth got its chance in the shape of Browning for Coleman and Naismith kept his place.

Considering the length of our injury list and the experienced players on it and unavailable our bench looked really strong which does point to a good building operation going on, maybe not fast enough for some but this fan is quietly optimistic and pleased. Quite a few we spoke to thought a point would be a good result but my take was that if we really are to have a stab at top four or even five then we need wins at places like these against teams who are showing progress themselves.

With the sun beating down the all- Blues locked horns with the all- Whites and in the first five mins we had two scares. Firstly Montero was getting the better of Browning almost at will then Jags got flattened in the area and stayed down along with the Swansea man after what appeared to be a clash of heads and Jags head seemed more solid than the other fellows who required lengthy treatment but both players recovered and soldiered on. Then our manager became a bit agitated and could be seen waving and pointing as something was not as it should have been, nothing changed so no idea what the problem was until Montero got the ball and found three Everton players hemming him in so he must have called for a helping hand for Browning. Things then settled down and we started to put a few good moves together but were guilty of being a bit lax in final third and allowing Swansea to break on us.

Fifteen minutes gone and we had a spell of you attack we attack which saw Jags head over from a corner and then Barry made his only mistake of the afternoon and misplaced a header and let Gomis in one on one but thankfully he dragged wide, We then showed our joined up style as we cut through Swansea up the middle. Barkley got on the ball and fed Kone who in turn played it to Lukaku who moved it on to Naismith but Lukaku was a bit slow in making the pass and defenders had got back and blocked Naismiths route to goal and the move broke down. Pity that.

Another scare on twenty-odd minutes when the elegant Stones strode out with the ball and was involved in a 50/50 from which he stayed down holding his knee. To huge relief he resumed after magic sponge treatment. As the half wore on we seemed to be getting a bit of a grip and the ever running Galloway galloped down the left and was tumbled and was awarded a free kick. Barkley found Naismith on the edge and he hit it sweetly and Lukaku. standing six yards out tried to divert it past the keeper but seemed to get little on it and the chance was gone then our second striker Kone was put in after more good work by Barkley but he booted the ball over the bar then another break instigated by Barkley saw him make good ground and feed Lukaku who looked to have a clear chance but by the time he had sorted his feet out and shot the Swans centre-back was in position to deflect it over for a corner that came to nought.

The half was now running down with both teams having bits of attacking play with the Blues shading it but the half at best had been patchy Spells of good football spells of nervy football and spells of promises that came to nought and as that went for both sides it made for an unspectacular half yet one I felt with a little more care we could have broken the deadlock as we did have the better attacking ideas.

Half-time: 0-0 and the chat seemed to be regarding anything but football as people discussed how they had travelled, some made a weekend of it in the Swansea bay area etc. etc. but this soon turned to cheering and singing as we were out for the second half first.

We started with some purpose and within minutes Barkley was in their box and put a low cross in that I am still trying to understand how Kone did not convert, it looked a gimme tap in. Barkley now looks on fire as he raids again and links with the excellent Galloway swapping passes and mesmerising their defenders before playing Galloway in on goal but alas the lad shot well but missed the far post. Really excellent stuff from Barkley.

We are now on top and Barry coolly finds Stones who comes forward elegantly and feeds in Lukaku on goal with a fine pass clear on goal but the big man lifts it over the bar what a chance. Lukaku misses a chance again in our next attack as Naismith and Barkley swop passes a couple of times and then Barkley chips in to Lukaku who can only hit a tame one, on target yes but easily cleared from the line by Williams. We seemed well on top now and a goal looked imminent as we were performing well all over the park. Browning after his shaky start was growing into the game and Montero was not as noticeable now, Galloway was showing up really well for such a young lad with just a few games under his belt if he continues in this vein Baines may well have serious competition.

Just after the hour mark Deulofeu came on for Kone and we hoped his attacking verve and twists and turns could help fashion a goal. Swansea did attack when they could and Gomis got the chance of a shot which he hit with power but straight at Howard who fisted it away but straight to another Swansea man who controlled but was met by a cruncher from Galloway, no foul said the ref but the Swansea man went up in the air and was not best pleased. Passed the seventy minute mark and as I was thinking how on earth we had not scored Deulofeu twisted and turned and got to the byline and put in one of his trademark low fast crosses and it went almost along the goal line and out toward the corner flag with no takers which bemused me even more. Barkley once again sashayed forward and played in Galloway who was now more of a forward than a full back the young man let one fly but a Swansea body deflected the ball over the bar but the resultant corner came to nought.

Its all Everton now and the songs and chants continue to cascade down the terraces and a mighty roar of Everton-Everton Everton rains down in a mighty effort to try and suck one in. Still we create and squander again and again. Naismith swivels in the box and fires wide, the same player is then felled in the box but the ref cocks a deaf un at the appeal. A look at the clock and five to go. I keep my spirits up by recalling all the last minute goals I could think of, grasping and straws came to mind as our umpteenth free kick is cleared from their box. Into time added and Swansea nearly score in a rare raid, expletives were heard as Browning hacked away. Hell we cant lose this now I worried.

The manager in run down the clock mode put on Mirallas for Barkley who got a great send off. Mirallas was on and tracking back made one rash challenge and saw red and was tracking back to the dressing room and all within three minutes. He will miss Reading now as he was surely a starter for that one. Swansea took the free kick for his misdemeanour but fired over the bar. Howard took the goal kick and the Ref blew up. Me and thousands more walked away thinking we threw away two points considering our second half domination which had everything except putting the ball in the net and that is rather important.

MotM Stones, Barry, or Galloway would have got it on many an occasion but today I thought Barkley was our stand-out.

All-in-all, I think many who thought a point would be a result would have changed their minds after watching the game as we truly did create many, many chances and we could have expected at least one to be snapped up. It is no wonder that strikers who can consistently take one out of three chances go for the money they do.

Reading next and I hope Roberto puts out a team to progress as it is about time we did something in this competition. Still to wind up on a positive note despite being unable to score a goal I thought we are looking like a team that can do more than just threaten now and again and become a player near the top of the table. The ingredients are there so if we can just get a consistent mix and the youngsters keep grounded and progressing who knows.

See you soon,

Ken Buckley

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SWANSEA (4-4-2)
  Cork booked
  Sigurdsson (Ki 61')
  Ayew booked (Barrow 87')
  Gomis (Eder 81')
  Subs not used

EVERTON (4-5-1)
  Browning booked
  Barry booked
  Barkley (Mirallas 90 + 1' sent off)
  Kone (Deulofeu 65')
  Subs not used
  Funes Mori
  Baines (injured)
  Besic (injured)
  Cleverley (injured)
  Coleman (injured)
  Hibbert (injured)
  Oviedo (injured)
  Pienaar (injured)
  Garbutt (loan)
  Junior (loan)
  McAleny (loan)

Premier League Scores
Aston Villa 0-1 West Brom
Bournemouth 2-0 Sunderland
Chelsea 2-0 Arsenal
Man City 1-2 West Ham
Newcastle 1-2 Watford
Stoke City 2-2 Leicester
Swansea 0-0 Everton
Liverpool 1-1 Norwich
Southampton 2-3 Man United
Tottenham 1-0 C Palace

Team Pts
1 Manchester City 15
2 Manchester United 13
3 West Ham United 12
4 Leicester City 12
5 Arsenal 10
6 Everton 9
7 Swansea City 9
8 Crystal Palace 9
9 Tottenham Hotspur 9
10 Watford 9
11 Norwich City 8
12 West Bromwich Albion 8
13 Liverpool 8
14 AFC Bournemouth 7
15 Chelsea 7
16 Southampton 6
17 Aston Villa 4
18 Stoke City 3
19 Newcastle United 2
20 Sunderland 2


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