Hurrah for snidey Everton.
Wednesday’s 1-0 win at Newcastle was just the sort of gritty, battling performance the side has failed to deliver all season.
Like at Anfield on Sunday, the Toffees weren’t at their fluid best. But a new-found defensive solidity meant it only took a solitary Wayne Rooney strike to secure the points.
That’s 10 goals in all competitions for Rooney this season, which has already exceeded my expectations.
Getting Rooney and Gylfi Sigurdsson playing well together is an early success story for Sam Allardyce.
It looked a case of ‘one or the other’ for much of this campaign, but some of their link-up play on Wednesday was superb and maintaining that form is key for the team’s success this season.
Anyway back to the snide.
Jonjoe Kenny’s “I can’t find the ball’ routine in the 89th minute was absolutely glorious. As was everything Tom Davies did after coming off the bench.
Good to see Jonjoe Kenny get a new contract, hope he got an extra two years for this bit of time-wasting from last night. pic.twitter.com/T977Y9vMkq— Darren (@nsno_83) December 14, 2017
It had all the hallmarks of a Sam Allardyce team.
Is it the long-term answer? Well, I’d like to think the team is good enough to play more expansive football. But given our problems this season I’ll take it right now.
There was further good news when it was announced Kenny, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Mason Holgate had all signed new contracts.
All three youngsters held their own when more senior players let them down during the first few months of the season. And now results are starting to improve, the young trio are thriving.
Swansea’s successful survival bid last season centred around Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente. So when both players left in the summer it was always going be even tougher to stay up this time.
Wilfried Bony was brought back to the club to supply the goals but the Dutchman has scored just twice this season. Tammy Abraham was also added to the club’s forward line but his form has been patchy while Renato Sanches has been a disaster.
The result is just three wins from 17 games so far this season and a goal return of just nine - comfortably the worst in the division.
Manager Paul Clement, who was only brought in just over a year ago, is understandably under pressure. However, the club’s owners are reportedly ready to give him more time and the January transfer window to turn things around.
Things can change quickly in football though and a few more defeats between now and the end of the year may forced a change of heart in the boardroom.
Clement needs results and fast.
Yannick Bolasie could make a welcome return to the first-team squad after more than a year out with a knee injury.
Bolasie has played twice for the U23s and will be carefully assessed before being given the green light to return.
Leighton Baines is still sidelined though as he recovers from a calf problem.
Predicted starting XI
Predicted starting XI: Pickford, Kenny, Jagielka, Keane, Martina, Schneiderlin, Davies, Sigurdsson, Rooney, Lennon, Niasse.
When Everton were thrashed 4-1 at Southampton last month I struggled to see where the next win was coming from.
Now, with the team safely in mid-table, three points is almost expected on Monday evening.
How quickly things can change.
I’m sure Allardyce will warn his side against complacency, but Swansea’s struggles this season - even worse than ours - means this is a game we should be looking to win.