Swansea City vs Everton

Friday, 13 April, 2018 0comments  |  Jump to last
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Might Morgan Schneiderlin have played his way to another starting berth with his performance in the derby last week?

Everton travel to South Wales to face Swansea City in the first of their three remaining away matches of the season.

Successive home games without a win, coupled with Burnley's uptick in form means that the prospect of finishing seventh — and, possibly, securing European football for another season — has become a remote one. It has also, therefore, reduced the Blues' last five games to being essentially meaningless beyond the need to secure as much prize money as possible.

Not that they won't lack meaning and importance for their opponents, four of whom are still not clear of relegation (West Ham will almost certainly be safe by the time they entertain Everton on the final day), and that includes Swansea who are on course to complete a remarkable act of self-salvation under new manager Carlos Carvalhal.

The Swans looked to be on their way back to the Championship after their 3-1 defeat in the reverse of this fixture in December. Four points adrift at the bottom of the table heading into Christmas, by statistical tradition a death knell, their plight was a desperate one when their board of directors took the somewhat surprising decision to appoint Carvalhal.

Without a Premier League pedigree and having just been fired by Sheffield Wednesday, the Portuguese wouldn't ordinarily have been high on many chairmen's shortlists. Just one defeat in his first seven League games, however, lifted Swansea out of the bottom three and they come into the weekend sitting four points above the drop zone with a game in hand over four of the sides below them.

Importantly, in the context of this Saturday's game, Carvalhal has overseen home wins over three sides from the top seven at the Liberty Stadium since he took over from Paul Clement having seen off Liverpool, Arsenal and Burnley. With Everton notoriously poor travellers this season and Swansea having established a rhythm at home (their recent 3-0 defeat to Tottenham notwithstanding), it has the makings of a difficult afternoon for the Toffees.

With little to play for, these final games present an opportunity for Allardyce to hand some opportunities to some of the fringe players in the squad but you rather sense that the manager's desire for self-preservation, one enunciated himself during a radio interview with talkSPORT this past week, could trump any impulse on his part to throw the likes of Davy Klaassen, Nikola Vlasic, Ramiro Funes Mori and Oumar Niasse a proverbial bone.

By the same token, however, the idea has been thrown up enough times by supporters online and the local press over the past few days that it wouldn't be beyond Allardyce to field a couple of those forgotten names and present it as his own idea.

It's hard to see beyond a familiar line-up, though, with, perhaps, the odd change here and there to accommodate the return to the starting XI of Idrissa Gueye and a reversion to the team that started against Stoke, Everton's last win.

With Mason Holgate out injured and Ashley Williams having possibly blotted his copybook significantly with his red card at Burnley, the back five is likely to remain unchanged. In midfield, Morgan Schneiderlin could partner Gueye at the expense of Tom Davies as reward for a markedly improved performance in last week's Merseyside derby, with Wayne Rooney sitting in front of them while Yannick Bolasie and Theo Walcott would provide width down the flanks.

Victory would keep those faint hopes of finishing seventh alive while also keeping the pressure on Leicester in eighth place above but, on the flip side, a defeat for Everton here and a win for Newcastle over Arsenal on Sunday would put the formerly relegation-threatened Barcodes level on points with the Blues. Some indignity that would be but par for the course in a dreadful campaign.

Kick-off: 3pm, Saturday 14 April, 2018
Referee: Lee Mason
Last Time: Swansea City 1 - 0 Everton

Predicted Line-up: Pickford, Coleman, Jagielka, Keane, Baines, Schneiderlin, Gueye, Rooney, Bolasie, Walcott, Tosun