The Toffee’s have experienced a mixed start to the season winning just five of their 15 games this season and sliding to within four points of the relegation zone. I doubt many will have expected David Moyes’ side to be languishing near the bottom three going into Christmas but they have ultimately paid the price for not being able to sufficiently invest in the summer. Moyes was once again forced to operate on a financial tightrope during the last transfer window having to scour the market for bargain basement signings. The acquisition of Royston Drenthe has proved to be extremely shrewd although the Dutchman has failed to end the Merseyside’s goal scoring problems. Everton have scored only 16 goals this season and it’s that profligacy that has cost them dearly in a number of games. Moyes’ preferred front pairing of Louis Saha and Tim Cahill continue to struggle in front of goal with the latter still yet to score in 2011. That won’t stand them in good stead when they come up against a Swansea side who have kept seven clean sheets so far during their debut campaign. The arrival of Landon Donovan can’t come soon enough for the Toffees supporters with the American returning for a second loan spell in January two years after his first
Luckily for Swansea the LA Galaxy forward won’t be sporting Everton blue until the New Year who will go in search of a ninth clean sheet of the season on Merseyside. Manager Brendan Rodgers has certainly confounded the critics in his debut campaign as a top-flight boss guiding the club to within a point of the top half. Whilst many predicted the Swans to be rooted to the bottom as 2011 comes to an end there is a sense that they can continue their ascent as the New Year approaches. The signing of goalkeeper Michael Vorm has been a masterstroke with the Dutchman turning in a series of incredible displays since his move from the Eredivisie. Vorm was on hand to thwart both Fulham and Newcastle in the space of a week ensuring Swansea took four points from games many expected them to get nothing from. Their stubborn performance at St James’ Park on Saturday highlighted their discipline and never say die attitude as they frustrated the Magpies with a solid defensive display. Welsh international Ashley Williams has made the step up from the Championship look easy and he will be confident of keeping Everton’s blunt strike force at bay. However there is still a negative side to their fairy tale season and that’s their away form. The Swans have yet to pick up a win on their travels and will need to start doing so quickly if they are to remain safe from danger.
Everton 14th : 17 points
Team news: Key midfielders Seamus Coleman and Jack Rodwell are both doubts for Swansea game and David Moyes is unlikely to risk either of them over the gruelling festive period if they aren’t 100%.
Key Player: Leon Osman
With Louis Saha and Tim Cahill proving incapable of scoring and creating goals the onus has been put on Osman to provide some inspiration in the final third. The midfielder did just that on Saturday scoring a cheeky equaliser to rescue a point against Norwich and Everton will be expecting more of the same from their playmaker.
Swansea 12th : 18 points
Team news: Nathan Dyer is ruled out until the New Year with an ankle injury although defender Angel Rangel could return after injuring his foot against Aston Villa last month.
Key Player: Michael Vorm
For a second successive week the goalkeeper was Swansea’s savour turning in another man of the match display to keep his eight shut out of the season against Newcastle. Vorm frustrated the Magpies and Demba Ba in particular making a number of superb saves and will be eager to keep his third clean sheet in a row on Merseyside.
Everton’s season continues to fluctuate and they’ll be desperate to avoid a fourth winless game against Swansea. The Welshmen have yet to win away from the Liberty Stadium but are looking stronger every game and should snuff out the Toffee’s weak attack with ease.