Leaving Christmas shopping to the very last minute, Abi Davies hopped on the team coach and headed north to Merseyside to take on the troubled toffees.
Wayne Routledge deservedly retained his place in the starting XI for Wednesday’s trip to Goodison Park whilst Ashley Williams continued to skipper the side, with Gary Monk out of favour and vice captain Alan Tate still injured.
Everton got the game under way and were quick to settle on the ball, dictating the pace of the game, pressing Swansea high up the field not allowing them to settle into their renowned rhapsodic, rhythmic style. The home side were looking far more assured, with more penetration pushing forward, looking constantly dangerous.
Scott Sinclair has not posed the same threat over recent months and I feel this is because, as a right footed footballer playing out on the left wing he is limited in what he can do and has become far too predictable for defenders to read.
For spells of the first half the Swans looked good in possession, with Allen and Routledge in particular looking dangerous going forward. However, yet again Swansea failed to implement the right tactics, and when Everton stopped them from playing the ball out from defence, Brendan Rodgers’ side seemed to offer no plan B to their attack.
As ever, Swansea’s downfall and lack of attempts was largely due to their strive to score ‘the perfect goal’ unwilling to shoot from range, they failed to work the Everton keeper in the first half.
Swansea suffered a blow 10 minutes before the interval when they were forced into making a first substitution as left back Neil Taylor was taken off due to an injury sustained whilst blocking a Gueye effort. The left back was replaced by Angel Rangel as the Catalan got his first involvement since picking up an ankle injury against Aston Villa. Jazz Richards switched over to left back in order for Rangel to slot back into his usual right back position.
Everton were awarded two optimum chances to take the lead before half time with two free kicks on the edge of the area however neither worked Swansea’s number 1.
Much like the weekend fixture against Newcastle, the Swans went in level at the interval despite being on the back foot for the best part of the half.
For the second consecutive fixture, Kemy Agustien was introduced into the action at half time and instantly gave us the physical presence we required in midfield, sitting just ahead of the Swans back four.
Everton finally broke the deadlock on the hour mark. Following the awarding of an extremely dubious corner, Osman rose above Caulker to connect with Drenthe’s delivery, heading home to score what proved to be the only goal of the game.
Wayne Routledge did his utmost to amount an instant response, with a number of great runs, however little support meant the majority of movements broke down outside the 18 yard box.
Swansea’s best chance of getting back on level terms came when Wayne Routledge delivered a great ball into the box, met by Danny Graham who directed his header straight into the arms of Howard.
Few other chances in the game saw the score remain 1-0 to the home side, meaning the Swans search for a Premier League away win will continue into the new year.
The result sees Swansea drop to 14th in the league, still a great accolade given our squads lack of experience at this level.
I feel it was evident once more at Goodison, how much we are missing the presence of Darren Pratley in midfield as we are still to replace the box to box midfielder.
Drafted into the side against Aston Villa 3 weeks ago to replace the injured Angel Rangel, Jazz Richards has over recent weeks capitalised on his opportunity, stepping up to deal with the demands of the top flight, making numerous timely interceptions at Goodison the Welsh defender showed just how much he is maturing and growing in confidence with the more game time he is receiving.
I feel that playing with one up front away from home is not working sufficiently, and in order to combat this and record our first away win we need to add more versatility to our game as well as possibly changing our formation.
Personally I would omit both wide players when away from home as I don’t feel they make the same impact as they do at The Liberty. We would also be able to retain our width as both of our full backs are extremely attack minded. I feel that playing Agustien just ahead of the back four, with Britton and Allen controlling and pulling the strings in midfield while Routledge supports Lita and Graham up front could serve us better on the road.