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‘Swans in survival driving seat’ – Three things learnt from Swansea 1-0 Everton



Fernando Llorente Swansea

Swansea City ensured that their Premier League fate is now in their own hands after Fernando Llorente’s first-half goal was enough to see off Everton at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday evening.

In a first-half of very few clear chances, Jordan Ayew stood a ball up towards the back post for Swansea’s top scorer Llorente to scrappily head into the net and give the Swans a crucial advantage.

Despite going close through Romelu Lukaku and Phil Jagielka as the Toffees pushed for a late equaliser, the hosts held out to secure a critical three points in the battle to avoid the dreaded drop.

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After Hull City lost to already-relegated Sunderland earlier in the day, Swansea’s victory sees them climb out of the relegation spots – a point ahead of the Tigers – whilst Everton remain in 7th place.

Swans take pole position in race for survival

All in all, Saturday couldn’t have gone any better as far as Swansea City are concerned.

With their closest rivals – in Hull City and Crystal Palace – both dropping points earlier in the day, the Swans managed to handle the immense pressure that was on their shoulders and beat a high-flying Everton side; now with just two Premier League matches left, they’re in control of their own destiny.

Perhaps most telling is that Paul Clement’s side now face a trip to the Stadium of Light and already-doomed Sunderland – win that and they could mathematically secure their survival if Hull City lose.

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With the Tigers facing an equally pivotal match against fellow relegation contenders Crystal Palace on Sunday, there’s a chance that Swansea can stretch the gap to four points before Hull even play.

It was a complete performance against Everton – a fully deserved victory – that showed a determination that hasn’t really been seen across the Welsh border so far this league season.

From front to back each Swansea player fought and battled, and young Alfie Mawson – who was playing for Barnsley this time last year – was exceptional in keeping Romelu Lukaku’s threat quiet.

With Sunderland surprising Hull this weekend survival is certainly not a formality for Swansea, but with a strong win under their belt and momentum on their side they’re in pole position to survive.

Koeman gets his tactics wrong

It’s undeniable that Ronald Koeman has worked wonders at Everton this season, taking them to the brink of a challenge for Champions League football, but he simply got his tactics wrong on Saturday.

After seeing Manchester United dominate Swansea for large periods of their clash last week when matching their diamond formation, Koeman decided to replicate this to try and pin the Swans back.

This meant leaving Ross Barkley and Enner Valencia out of the starting line-up, with Gareth Barry and Kevin Mirallas making returns, but it failed to have the desired effect; in a first-half of very few chances, Romelu Lukaku was left isolated in the final third and the Toffees eventually conceded a soft goal.

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Mirallas was forced into dropping too deep to try and influence the play, leaving a huge gap between the Everton midfield line and Lukaku and even when Koeman brought on Barkley and Valencia in the second-half it failed to have the desired effect as Swansea stifled any creativity from the visitors.

With very little to play for in recent weeks it seems that the Toffees are perhaps already concentrating on next season; but with no away win in seven games, Koeman would be wise to stop the rot.

Target-man Llorente proves his worth

Last week it was Swansea’s main man Gylfi Sigurdsson who stepped up to the plate when it mattered and delivered, and this time the Swan’s inspiration came in the shape of Fernando Llorente.

With his side against the cosh somewhat – and seconds after a penalty appeal had been turned down – the Spanish striker towered above Phil Jagielka to nod home and send the Liberty Stadium crazy.

It was his 13th Premier League goal this season and, other than his double in the win against Liverpool over the festive period, it’s arguably one of his most important contributions this season.

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The fact that it was his 7th with his head shows just how valuable, and how effective, having a target-man up front can be; even in an age where pace reigns supreme, there’s still room for the big man up top.

He was unlucky not to add to his tally for the afternoon when he was smartly denied by Maarten Stekelenburg but he had already done enough to ensure his side are in the driving seat for survival.

Featured Image: All rights reserved by Oliver Oliu.

Will is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, specialising in the art of sports. Long-time suffering Northampton Town fan who once saw us win a league title. Find him on Twitter - @96PearsonW.

English Premier League

Summer signing Josh Bowler finally starting to look the part for Everton

The summer signing from QPR is starting look the real deal for Everton.



In the summer Everton made a number of new signings for the first-team, but what perhaps went under the radar was the improvements they made to the under-23 squad. One recruit signed with the future in mind was QPR attacker Josh Bowler.

As reported by Sky Sports, Everton paid the West London side £4.25 million for the talented winger, who signed a deal at the club until 2020.

He had previously played just 20 minutes of first-team football for QPR, so his signing did come as something of a surprise.

It is quite a financial outlay for a teenager and, looking at his statistics for the campaign, many Everton fans will be concerned he was a waste of money.

In 15 games for the Everton under-23s, the attacker managed to register zero assists or goals in what was an ultimately disappointing first season.

(Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)

However, in the recent 2-2 draw against Manchester United, Bowler summed up his season for the Everton youngsters.

The 19-year-old was easily Everton’s best player in the game. He tormented the Manchester United defence for 90 minutes with his direct style, pace and trickery. It was a tremendous performance which missed just two things, an end product and a bit of luck.

Bowler though is showing all the right attributes to become a future Everton star. After a slow start to the season, he has come into his own in the final weeks of the campaign and Everton fans can rightly start to get excited about their summer recruit.

What Bowler now has the perfect base to build on during the summer. He needs to bulk up a little to be a pertinent threat in the Premier League, which is where the summer can come in handy.

Staying fit and continued to improve are all Bowler really needs to do in order to prove himself a top talent in the Everton system.

At the moment, the trajectory is looking good for this 19-year-old talent.

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English Premier League

If Everton are serious about top four challenge they must battle rivals for Clement Lenglet

The Frenchman has been sublime for Sevilla this season and Everton need a new central defender.



After a summer of investment Everton‘s aim for this season was to challenge for the top four. It was a bold and ambitious plan which failed miserably.

They spent much of the first half of the campaign in the relegation reckoning, sacked their manager and have now limped their way to the top-half playing a dreadful brand of football under the guidance of Sam Allardyce.

It is fair to say, Everton fans are not happy.

Next season, the challenge again will be to try and compete with the Premier League’s elite.

But if Everton are going to do that, they need to improve one area of their team drastically – the defence.

Ashley Williams has been woeful this season and Everton fans would happily see the back of him.

Phil Jagielka does his best, but age is starting to get the better of him. Michael Keane took a while to settle following his move from Burnley.

Meanwhile, Ramiro Funes Mori has been injured most of the campaign and Mason Holgate has had an inconsistent season.

(Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

A new centre-back is a must and, if Everton are serious about challenging for Europe, it needs to be a top defender.

Plenty are about at the moment, but the one which springs to mind for Everton is Sevilla star Clement Llenglet.

He caught the eye of English football fans after shackling Romelu Lukaku at Old Trafford in the Champions League.

The Frenchman has been in fine form for the club this season and now Lenglet is being linked with a host of clubs.

One such team is Liverpool, and with good reason. Lenglet has a release clause in his contract at Sevilla which stands at just €30 million (£26.25 million) – according to Marca.

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Considering the price paid for the likes of Virgil Van Dijk, Aymeric Alporte and John Stones after the past year that fee is an absolute bargain.

Everton owner Farhad Moshiri is expected to dig deep into his pockets again this summer as Everton look to mount a renewed campaign next season.

Beating the likes of Liverpool to Lenglet’s signature would be the biggest signal of intent yet that Everton are ready to push into the Premier League elite.

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English Premier League

Everton’s under-the-radar £6m signing Lewis Gibson is a star of the future

The England under-18 defender looks a star in the making for Everton.



Everton’s under-23s brought their season to an end this week with a 2-2 draw with Manchester United. It was not the campaign they would have wanted, after the brilliant PL2 title-winning season of 2016-17. But with David Unsworth stepping up to first-team duties earlier in the season and plenty of their stars from that season sent out on loan or joining the Everton first-team is what always going to be a tough one.

But in the final weeks of the campaign one player who has really stood out as an exceptional talent is 17-year-old defender Lewis Gibson.

His signature may have slipped by some Everton fans in the summer. The Toffees brought the England under-18 international to Finch Farm from Newcastle United. The fee for the player, according to the Liverpool Echo, could eventually rise to £6 million, so he was clearly identified as a top investment for the future.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

He has certainly looked the part this season.

Gibson has played 16 times for Everton’s under-23s this campaign, playing at both his preferred centre-back position and left-back. The talented defender was a member of the England under-17 team that won the World Cup last summer and he now looks like he could be the next great hope from the Everton youth system.

This summer he turns 18 and, given the standard he has showcased in the under-23s, he could genuinely start pushing for first-team football at Everton from next term.

(Photo by Filipe Farinha/Getty Images)

With the defence still an issue for Everton, improvements are likely in the summer. But Gibson should not be simply overlooked just because of his tender years.

Whilst he should not be a Premier League regular it would be great to see Gibson get game time in the League Cup and maybe find his way into the matchday squad on occasions next term.

Everton should not rush the defender, but if you are good enough then you are old enough. Gibson is starting to look like he could be the future of Everton’s defence and should get some reward from next season.

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