Today felt a bit like the week before all of your favorite television programs return, and the networks are still running reruns. When we last left Swansea City, they were being trounced 2-0 on their own ground by our fearless heroes, the mighty Toffees. Fast forward a few months, adjust the scoreline slightly, and you've got pretty much the same game. Usually reruns are kind of a drag, but I could watch this show over and over.
Seriously, Premier League, what's the big deal with Swansea City? Everyone else seems to have quite a bit of trouble with these guys, especially at the Liberty Stadium. Everton, on the other hand, have not been very nice visitors. They have kicked back, put their collective feet on the coffee table, and made themselves quite at home in Wales.
You've got to love how this team is playing right now. Match report after the jump...
- Right from the beginning of the match it was clear that Everton were going to be the aggressors. Victor Anichebe fashioned the first of what would be many, many chances on the day for the Nigerian, heading a Leighton Baines free kick too close to Michel Vorm. However, Swansea's keeper had trouble with the shot and almost spilled it into the path of Marouane Fellaini.
- Soon after that Everton had another golden opportunity (or two) to take the lead during the course of a wild sequence in the Swansea box. Anichebe did well to find Kevin Mirallas twice, the first effort a hard shot that was parried by Vorm, the second a header that proved harmless in the end.
- There was a controversial moment while still in the early stages of the match, as referee Anthony Taylor had a decision to make when Ashley Williams brought down Anichebe on the edge of the box. Was Anichebe denied a clear goalscoring opportunity? Difficult to say, as there was another Swansea defender at least in the vicinity of the play, but it definitely could have been given (David Moyes sure thought so). However, Williams escaped with just a caution and the resulting free kick was eaten up by the wall.
- Everton were completely monopolizing the possession, and they finally got the goal they deserved from the much-maligned Anichebe. But while Everton's play warranted a goal, the actual tally should have been disallowed. As Fellaini corralled a long free kick from the halfway line, his right arm clearly knocked the ball into the path of Anichebe, who took his chance well for a 1-0 lead. In fairness to the officials it was a tough call to make, as the way Fellaini ducked into the challenge gave the impression that he had headed the ball instead of punched it, but the replays were conclusive. After what happened on Monday though, I'd say we were due a bit of luck.
- As always when a team falls behind, Swansea started to play better and enjoyed probably their best stretch of the match. Michu was looking dangerous and headed a corner kick powerfully over the crossbar. Then Ki Sung-Yueng's effort from outside the box went far too close for comfort, whizzing past an outstretched Tim Howard and thankfully the post as well.
- Just when the home side was looking like they might find an equalizer before the interval, the Toffees delivered a sucker punch in the form of a wonderful goal from new boy Mirallas. Phil Neville deserves credit for winning the ball in his own corner to initiate the attack, while Fellaini also should be applauded for a fantastic weighted pass that sprung Pienaar down the right (an unfamiliar position for Pienaar, it should be noted). The South African found Mirallas marauding down the middle, and while his initial shot was saved by Vorm off the post, he made no mistake with the rebound and headed it home.
- In a near repeat of the Newcastle game, Everton came dangerously close to conceding a goal right after scoring on the other end. This time, however, Howard made himself big and denied Angel Rangel from close-range. It was a huge stop that ensured the Blues would make it to halftime with a two-goal advantage.
- Howard made another mammoth stop soon after the restart, as Michu found ample space to shoot but found the American keeper impenetrable once again. Even though the game finished as a 3-0 blowout, Howard's contribution should not be understated and the result could have turned out very differently had Swansea been able to scratch out a goal when they were down 1-0 or even 2-0.
- Mirallas came ever so close to notching his first Everton brace when he struck the woodwork for a second time, though this time there was to be no follow-up goal. Anichebe did get a crack at the rebound but he shot directly into the arms of Vorm.
- Howard's best save was still to come, a desperate late jab at a shot from Ki that looked destined for the back of the net. Brilliant stuff, and a great response from Howard after a shaky outing on Monday that left some supporters citing him as the main reason for the two points dropped.
- The game was essentially over moments later when substitute Nathan Dyer was sent off for a second yellow card, unbelievably having lasted barely ten minutes on the pitch. It was a stupid initial booking for dissent that put Dyer in a bad spot to begin with, and when he slid in wildly on Baines the referee had no choice but to reach for his pocket.
- The rest of the match basically consisted of Fellaini getting closer and closer to scoring before he finally did notch that elusive tally. First, he found space to shoot in the box after Anichebe did well to break free of the defense and send him a short cross, but he should have done better when he ballooned his shot into the stands. Next, a header from Fellaini off a corner kick managed to beat Vorm, but Leon Britton headed it off the line. Finally, Everton were handed a free kick on the edge of the box near the end of the match, and Baines chipped the ball into the area for Fellaini to meet with a simple header that Vorm could only stand and admire.
- So 3-0, and that was your final. A game more enjoyable than a plate full of bacon. And I really like bacon.
(in order of performance)
Anichebe 8 (MOTM), Howard 8, Mirallas 8, Baines 8, Fellaini 7.5, Pienaar 7, Jagielka 6.5, Coleman 6, Heitinga 6, Neville 6, Osman 5.5, Naismith 5.5 (71)
It was very difficult to pick a Man of the Match today, as so many players played well and yet no one clearly stood above the rest (as Fellaini did in the Man United game). Though I almost picked Tim Howard for a tremendous second half performance, I decided to go with Big Vic. Yes, I know, he probably should have scored at least another goal or two or three with the chances he had, but you have to generate those chances before you can finish them. In truth, I wasn't expecting much out of Anichebe today, but I came away very impressed with how hard he worked and how strong he looked on the ball. It was the first time he had scored in two successive matches while with Everton (that's a bit depressing, actually), so I say give the man his moment in the sun.