The first game of the weekend might just end up being the best game of the weekend.
There are some massive games in the Premier League this weekend, Super Sunday sees the clash of Manchester United and Liverpool, along with in-form Arsenal’s trip to Manchester City. However these games have a habit of faltering under the weight of expectation, and Saturday’s lunchtime kick-off looks like it may be a little bit special.
Everton and Swansea have both started well this season, and both have been involved in games with plenty of goals. Swansea have netted thirteen in five matches in all competitions this season, Everton have eleven. There is an array of attacking talent on display, indeed Miguel Michu is the joint top scorer in the Premier League at the moment. Jelavic may be injured but David Moyes can call on summer signings Steven Naismith and Kevin Mirallas to add to the goal threat of his attacking midfielders.
In March this year Everton came to the Liberty stadium and dominated Swansea in one of the four home defeats the Welsh team suffered last season. This year the match should be much closer. Michael Laudrup has taken over from Brendan Rodgers and his players have clearly responded to him. Their defeat away at Aston Villa last weekend was unexpected and Laudrup will be keen to ensure the Swansea regain their momentum in this fixture.
He will be aware that Swansea have never beaten Everton, and of the threat the Toffees pose especially down their left flank, with Steven Pienaar and Leighton Baines reforming their formidable partnership now the South African has returned from his frustrating spell at Spurs.
Everton too will be looking to return to winning ways, after defeat away at West Brom was followed by the Monday night draw with Newcastle, where they were pegged back twice by Demba Ba. The match on Monday was a tremendous affair, but it will be interesting to see if having to follow it with a Saturday lunchtime kick-off will have any effect on the team. Moyes will be keen to break up Swansea’s planning rhythm, whilst making sure they track the breaks from midfield coming from Michu, Dyer and Routledge.
In terms of selection issues Swansea have some problems at the back, with Chico still suspended following his red card against Sunderland, Neil Taylor out for the long term, and captain Ashley Williams a doubt ahead of the weekend. Everton’s main loss is Jelavic, with Darron Gibson also out with the thigh strain that kept him out of Monday’s match.
image: © Ronnie Macdonald