Everton seemed wary of the visitors in the opening exchanges. The home side failed to pressurise the ball with Swansea moving the ball around their own half with ease. Once Everton started to pressurise the visitors, mistakes started to happen. Passes went astray, first touches where looser and decision-making became rushed. Royston Drenthe and Marouane Fellaini started the game well for Everton. Drenthe was full of running in search of an opening with Fellaini dominating the midfield single-handedly.
The opening was cautious with neither side willing to go for the jugular. Both sides were content to stand-off each other; especially Everton. Other than a few dangerous crosses and some poor corners, neither side had anything to show for the first 25 minutes. The first effort of note came, with almost half an hour on the clock, via the head of John Heitinga. The centre back advanced and played a ball down the right side. The Dutchman continued and got on the end of a Tony Hibbert cross, but his header went over the bar.
Everton had to make a change with 30 minutes gone. Seamus Coleman's thigh injury resurfaced and Magaye Gueye came on. The change made the team look more assured as Gueye is more technically sound than Coleman. The change meant Drenthe moving over to the right hand side; where he looks much more threatening.
The change gave Everton impetus as they started to look threatening. Leon Osman was becoming more influential and Louis Saha flashed a header wide from an Osman cross. Osman's defence splitting pass found Baines and his pull back reached Gueye inside the area. The substitute?s low effort was well saved by Vorm. The ball rebounded to Gueye but Vorm and Taylor combined to clear the danger. Another corner led to Phil Jagielka firing wildly over as Everton pressed for a breakthrough.
With five minutes to the break, Everton won a free kick outside the box. Baines' disappointing free kick went comfortably over the bar. Drenthe struck a free kick, on the stroke of half time, from a tighter angle. The winger's well struck effort shot past Vorm's right hand post. Gueye squandered another chance in first half injury time; the offside flag spared his blushes.
Swansea made two changes either side of half time. Injured left back Neil Taylor made way for Angel Rangel and Kemy Agustien came on for Mark Gower. The visitors ended the first half without a single shot. The visitors play attractive football yet are short on incision in the final third; much like Everton. Fellaini, Drenthe, Osman and Baines had been the stand out performers for the home side in the first half.
Hibbert blocked a Wayne Routledge shot and Heitinga blocked another shot as the visitors looked to loosen their shackles. Meanwhile, a tame Osman effort drew a save from Vorm. A driving run by Drenthe lead to Everton taking the lead with an hour gone. Williams blocked Drenthe's cross and Osman rose to nod in the resulting corner.
This was the second home game Everton had scored first in this season. Overall, the Toffees have scored first in just five of their 19 games this season. The next task for the home side was to secure a first home clean sheet of the season. Heitinga blocked a Joe Allen shot as Swansea pressed and Jagielka put a Drenthe corner wide at the other end.
Swansea missed a golden chance to equalise as top scorer Danny Graham headed straight at Tim Howard. Drenthe fired a free kick over the bar and Denis Stracqualursi replaced the ineffective Saha with 20 minutes remaining. Swansea introduced Leroy Lita for the industrious Leon Britton as they switched to a more attacking approach. Tim Cahill replaced the live wire Drenthe as the match entered the final ten minutes.
Stracqualursi missed a chance to put the game beyond doubt. His tame effort, from a Gueye through ball, never troubled Vorm. Jagielka made a good clearance as Everton saw out the game in relative comfort. The Toffees held on for just their 11th home point of the season.
Fellaini bossed the midfield throughout and provided Drenthe and his cohorts with the platform to attack. Heitinga and Hibbert were the pick of the defenders with Baines again tireless down the left flank. Howard and Jagielka had steady games yet their distribution remains questionable. Saha was poor throughout.
Moyes? constant desire to use Phil Neville in midfield is bizarre. The captain offers little and Everton would be better served with a natural midfielder in his place. This game seemed the perfect chance to give Ross Barkley a run out. His lack of involvement frustrates the fans and will no doubt frustrate Barkley.
Overall it was a good, if unspectacular, performance and resulted in a much-needed home win. Its Martin O'Neill's revitalised Sunderland next, on Boxing Day. Everton will travel there with confidence as they are unbeaten in their last 14 meetings with Sunderland. The Mackems last win over Everton came on 22nd Dec 2001.
I hope you've all enjoyed my writing this year, Merry Christmas to all and hopefully Everton give us a happy New Year.
Howard 6 Hibbert 7 Jagielka 6 Heitinga 7 Baines 7 Coleman 5 Fellaini 8 Neville 6 Drenthe 8 Osman 7 Saha 5
Subs: Gueye 6 Stracqualursi 6 Cahill 6
MOTM: Marouane Fellaini
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1 Posted 22/12/2011 at 10:16:32
What he could do in a team dominating football would be something to see and if his contract was renewed for a full transfer fee then we need big money for this guy... B I G M O N E Y !
2 Posted 22/12/2011 at 10:08:22
vs Swansea I believe that Fellaini was MotM with drenthe a close second and these for different attributes. Fellaini hardly put a foot wrong, was cool, controlled, distributed well and tried to get to goal as well. Drenthe put in that usual flair that we miss so badly. As with many others, the 3 points is the most important issue. We still looked dull in front of goal. let's hope that the caoching crew somewow gets a flash of brilliance during the festive season. Personally, I believe this squad of players is capable of far more than the manager allows.
Have a great Christmas and New Year.
3 Posted 22/12/2011 at 11:38:00
But Felli did the job of two men, as he had to deal with Moyes joke of a selection, playing alongside Neville.
4 Posted 22/12/2011 at 12:10:26
Our squad is that small and short of quality that we are forced to have injured players on the bench and risk other players who probably shouldnt be playing. But what does Moyes know, he only watches them everyday in training and speaks to them to find out if they are carrying any knocks.
5 Posted 22/12/2011 at 13:05:06
6 Posted 22/12/2011 at 15:56:26
I thought Howard's distribution was much better and quicker for once.
7 Posted 22/12/2011 at 18:31:33
Thought I'd check the stats out in relation to your point about Neville; I was shocked.
Passes: 39 Successful Passes: 33 Pass Completion: 85% (only Fellaini with 86% bettered that for us)
Howard was accurate with just 43% of his passes. Some of his kicks out of hand were terrible. They just went straight up.
Jagielka confirmed what we all know; he can't pass. A very poor completion of just 59%.
Agree with what everyone else said; I thought Fellaini was class last night. I've posted his match stats on another report on here; very impressive. Drenthe was a close second.
Bob, spot on with your final point. I have been saying for months, despite our finances etc, we should still be doing better with the players we have.
8 Posted 22/12/2011 at 19:29:26
Well written and as far as I saw, accurate.
9 Posted 22/12/2011 at 20:26:53
10 Posted 22/12/2011 at 20:44:26
11 Posted 23/12/2011 at 00:03:51
My point was that people on here were complaining that Drenthe didnt start when he was just coming back from injury. We have to respect the decision made by Moyes and the player and the physio, as they know more than us.
12 Posted 23/12/2011 at 00:08:02
Of course, if the team are flying it will make his job easier and he will look even better, but I still think he stands out regardless. I agree I think he will get even better though, and could finish as the best Belgium midfielder since Scifo, if he fulfills his potential.
13 Posted 23/12/2011 at 19:15:33
I watched the whole game and there is no way in hell's chance neville had an 85% pass completion rate. Absolute rubbish.
14 Posted 23/12/2011 at 19:31:54
Moyes does have a history of playing injured players and it is to his discredit. I'd much rather see players like Gueye, Vellios, and Barkley getting solid premier league experience rather than play players who are unfit.
As for felli, he usually plays magnificently. Why Moyes puts that waste of space Neville beside him is anyone's guess, especially at home against Swansea playing a 4-4-2 ffs.
James, I think Nevilles pass completion rate must include passes to the opposition.
15 Posted 23/12/2011 at 19:44:52
Neville will receive the ball from a teammate and immediately pass it to the closest blue shirt, usually sideways or backwards. This is irrespective of how much pressure he is under from the opposition.
These are 6 yard passes which just succeed in slowing down our play and letting the opposition regroup. Very, very occasionally he'll play a forward pass or something over 10 yards, but it is very rare.
So, I'm honestly not surprised to see an 85% pass completion for him, but as per usual, stats only tell part of the story.
16 Posted 23/12/2011 at 22:44:48
I was at the match and I get my stats from Opta. Therefore they are not 'absolute rubbish'. However, I'm not for one minute advocating him being in midfield. I think it's scandalous that Moyes uses him in there.
17 Posted 23/12/2011 at 22:46:06
18 Posted 23/12/2011 at 22:49:31
19 Posted 23/12/2011 at 23:17:55
As you said, James, he offers nothing in midfield. Either going forward or backwards. Hibbert is also the better RB, I agree. Neville should be limited to cup games, injury crisis. He is a good captain but now, he's nothing more than an average player.
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