Leon Osman scored for the second time in four days and it was just enough to see Everton through against Swansea City. The Blues' lack of cutting edge in attack was again preventing them from turning possession into goals — though Gueye went close twice in the first half — until Osman headed Drenthe's superb corner home with an hour gone.
The Blues took a while to get going and it was the visitors who edged the possession in the first quarter of the game, stroking the ball around as has become customary under Brendan Rogers, although it was still Everton looking the more threatening in the final third.
Typically, though, they were lacking sufficient bodies in forward areas under David Moyes's conservative 4-5-1 formation. Osman had been deployed in the Tim Cahill role behind Louis Saha but the lack of the extra striker would be apparent on a number of occasions throughout the afternoon, first in the 6th minute when Seamus Coleman's inviting cross skipped across the Swansea box with no blue shirts in attendance.
Strange then that it would be John Heitinga who started and finished a move with a wayward header off Tony Hibbert's 28th-minute cross before Coleman had to be withdrawn with a reoccurrence of the thigh injury that kept him out against Norwich at the weekend.
His replacement, Magaye Gueye added a bit more attacking presence, though, and the young French forward came so close to opening his account for Everton when he fond himself the recipient of a perfect Leighton Baines centre. Unfortunately, Vorm in the Swansea goal was equal to it, saving well with a low, one-handed stop to keep the scores level.
And the Swansea 'keeper was called into emergency action again on the stroke of half time, closing the angle and denying Gueye for a second time by blocking his shot with his legs.
The second half was a lot more one-sided in Everton's favour but, once again, though they had plenty of the ball and were asserting plenty of pressure but clear-cut chances were few and far between.
As was the case against Stoke and Norwich, the set-piece count was high but very little was being created from them, at least until Drenthe whipped in a peach of a corner from the right and Osman rose to power a header off the back of his head into the far corner.
Swansea responded by upping their tempo a little and finally tested Tim Howard when Graham connected with Routledge's cross but steered it straight into the 'keeper's arms.
Instead, it was back down the other end where the next goal looked most likely to come, Drenthe fizzing a direct free kick just wide and substitute Denis Stracqualursi spurning a chance when put through behind the defense, his lack of pace allowing a defender to nick the ball off his toe at the crucial moment.
Everton are at home for the second game running looking to score their first victory over one of the Premier League's three newly-promoted clubs. It's almost 30 years since Swansea City visited Goodison Park for a League game and they haven't beaten Everton in 81 years but having watched fellow new-boys QPR and Norwich grab a win and draw respectively on the Blues's turf so far this season, the South Wales side will fancy their chances of deepening the gloom hanging over David Moyes's team.
Of course, if the Everton manager is looking for positives where Wednesday evening's opposition is concerned he'll be buouyed to know that the Swans are just as poor in front of goal as his side — both teams have managed just 16 goals so far — and they're the only club apart from Blackburn Rovers not to have won away from home this season.
In trying to resolve the Blues' attacking problems, Moyes hasn't experimented much but there are suggestions that he may hand Denis Stracqualursi his first Premier League start after his promising appearance as a substitute against Norwich at the weekend. The big Argentine had a fairly unimpressive outing in the Carling Cup against West Bromwich Albion earlier in the campaign but showed signs on Saturday that he is adapting to English football. If "El Traca" does get the nod, it's presumably too much to expect that it'll be a 4-4-2 formation, unless Moyes feels that Tim Cahill needs a rest.
And there are also calls for Moyes to name Royston Drenthe in the starting XI after his bamboozling 20-minute cameo that created the equaliser for Leon Osman that denied the Canaries victory. The Dutch winger wasn't deemed fit enough to play from the beginning on Saturday but while Moyes has made no bones about the fact that Drenthe's defensive weaknesses mean he'll be used primarily off the bench away from home and against the top sides, he could get a full game against Swansea if his manager is feeling bold. Magaye Gueye would be the obvious candidate to make way afte fading from an energetic opening four days ago.
Jack Rodwell is almost certainly ruled out, though, with the niggling hamstring complaint that flared up in the warm-up on Saturday so Phil Neville will probably continue alongside Marouane Fellaini in central midfield. Less likely is John Heitinga moving forward and Sylvain Distin partnering Phil Jagielka in central defence.
No further preamble is necessary, really. Everton simply have to win this one to give them some momentum going into the Festive programme.
|Premier League Scores|
|Premier League Table|
|2011-12 Reports Index|
|Taylor (45' +1' Rangel)|
|Britton (74' Lita)|
|Gower (46' Agustien)|
|Subs not used|
|10||West Bromwich Albion||21|
|16||Queens Park Rangers||16|