The Soccer Desk

Match Preview: Swansea vs. Everton

swans-eve

The Toffees, who are currently sitting pretty in fifth place, have a big opportunity to move further up in the top five when they head to Liberty Stadium to take on Swansea City.  Despite growing injury issues, Roberto Martinez’s Blues continue to roll on.  Their statement win against Fulham leaves Everton in a great place as they go on this one game road trip.

With the holidays fast approaching, Everton has a a strong chance to pick up all 12 points in their upcoming fixtures, culminating in a contest against Stoke City on New Year’s Day.  Leading up to their first match of 2014, the Toffees will have to go through Sunderland and Southampton home at Goodison Park, but a big win against the Swans this Sunday would be a tremendous way to kick the holiday run off.

Unfortunately for the Blues, they currently have three players who are one yellow card away from a suspension, a list that includes US international Tim Howard, a players who has had the praise of Martinez heaped upon him.  “Tim is a special footballer and human being at Everton because he represents everything I want from a player. He has incredible professionalism, a great vision and he influences people around him. He is someone as good as you will see in this league,” Martinez said of the star keeper.

But losing him to suspension during such an important part of the year would be costly, so he’ll have to keep his emotion in check this Sunday against Swansea.  It’s not just the threat of suspension that looms over Everton though.  The injury bug hasn’t been kind to the Toffees, losing striker Arouna Koné most likely for the season, Leighton Baines until the new year and now Gerard Deulofeu for at least five weeks.

While Koné and Deulofeu aren’t massive losses–the Spaniard has been a lot better off the bench–Baines being on the sidelines certainly hurts the team.  Luckily, Bryan Oviedo has filled in quite nicely, not only playing well defensively, but picking up a couple of key goals, including the game winner against United, as well.  Everton also caught a break with Deulofeu’s injury, which Martinez initially thought was much worse than it is.

With all this to take into consideration, Everton should still have a very familiar lineup when it comes time to take the pitch on Sunday.  Even with the risk of suspension, Martinez will put out the best lineup available which looks like this:

Everton-ManU

For Swansea, it hasn’t been very good in their last five contests, with just one win thrown in there against Newcastle.  Two draws and two losses make up the other four matches, so they’ll be looking to get back on track inside their home ground against the Toffees.  The odds are not in their favor however, as Everton has never lost to the Swans in all competitions, winning 11 out of their last 15 matches.

The action kicks off this Sunday morning at 11:00 a.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.  TSD will have a recap following the final whistle.  Sunday also brings a fresh edition of TSD Premier League Monthly, so be on the look out for that as well.