Saturday’s early kick off sees us head to Wales to take on a Swansea outfit who have made a bright start to the season with the same points tally as the Toffees so far. Against a side who keeps the ball like Swansea there is perhaps a plan A and Plan B you can use. ‘Plan A’ is to let them have the ball, block off angles for forward passes, conserve energy and only press when they approach 20 yards from your goal. Plan B is to stop them playing from the source – their top keeper Michel Vorm – recruited from Utrecht as much for his ability on the ball as for his goalkeeping prowess – however this is a physically draining strategy. This preview will take a look at probable tactics, formations and setup plus intel on the best odds in premier league betting . First up, lets take a look at last seasons’s meeting for clues on how Moyes will setup…..
The Blues won 1-0 in a very entertaining game at L4 just before Christmas. Swansea had the bulk of possession ( 54%) and kept the ball better than the Blues (82%) but we looked more incisive in the final third than our opponents and secured the points when Osman rose ‘like a salmon’ to head home Drenthe’s delicious cross. Moyes looked to close out passing angles from Vorn to Swansea ’s defensive distributors and key midfield link Britton. If there is a critique of the Swans its that their domination of the ball is mostly in their own half and they lack penetration to force their way into the final third. Crucially in the game at Goodison, of the successful passes made 27% of ours were made in the final third whilst only 16% of Swansea’s occurred in our final third.
Our hosts had most of the ball again (62%) kept it better (86% v 76%) and made more passes (585 v 359) but again lost without scoring. The key factor again was us disrupting their fluidity in playing through us. Swansea’s key man last season was arguably Leon Britton. He is vital to Swansea’s rhythm and linking defence to midfield. Our game plan from the off was to position ourselves to block off the angles from Vorm to the defenders with Osman and Pienaar positioning themselves high up the pitch as shown below .
The Blues average position / touch heatmap for the away game is above;
Cahill was asked to basically stand on Britton’s toes and ensure the midfielder had no space or angles to distribute forwards when the ball was played into him (expect Fellaini to be given the same job this time out). This tactic really frustrated their key midfield man and one of the key themes of the game was him constantly moving around the midfield zone looking for space, closely followed by Cahill. Unsurprisingly the duo covered the most – and almost exactly the same – distance in the first half from players on either side; Britton 2.78 miles and Cahill 2.76 miles respectively.
Swansea’s passing is often not going anywhere specific but the retention enables them to rest before building up another attack (i.e its easier to rest on the ball than chasing it). With containment achieved, the Blues kicked on and got the key goals late in the game before shutting up shop. Crucial to the win was the fact that we are physically capable of endurance in being able to withstand being off the ball for such long periods, mixed with some quick counter attacking play.
Danish legend Laudrup was chosen as the new boss to develop the continuity the club have had from Martinez to King Brenny. The playing style remains the same possession based game, patient passing and looking to wear opponents down. Key personnel have gone since our last duel; Sigurdsson opted for a massive bucket of Spurs cash instead of King Brenny’s offer of a ‘vision’ at the tin mine, whilst Joe Allen, a player whose type you could pick up for a few million in Spain went across the park for £15m. Great business. Wannabe wideboy Scott Sinclair also buggered off to Citteh’s development squad on a 12 month sabbatical to play u-21 football before signing for QPR next season. The crucial incomings at either end of the pitch have been Chico and Michu, and their role has been to beef up Swansea’s aerial power. Last season this was a major weak spot (Osman’s headed winner at Goodison for example) as the Swans won fewer aerial duels per game (5.9) than any side in the top flight. This season the change has been colossal with 17.3 aerials won per game – 6th best in the top flight – with the new duo the top two for headers won per game at their new club. So they are no longer a soft touch to the high ball into the box.
Swansea have a problem at left back with Neil Taylor out for the season with ressie fullback Ben Davies who started last week against Villa likely to continue. Mirallas is very direct and I’d expect Moyes to probe him to test the rookie out early on. Chico is banned for his GBH style head chop on Saha so Tate will fill in.
Moyes is without injured Nikica Jelavic for a few weeks so boo boy Victor Anichebe will most likely deputise. Gibson is still out so expect Neville to continue in the middle of the park.
Paddy Power are offering 6/4 on the Everton win, with the draw at 9/5 and a Swansea win at 23/10. Last season, Everton won both games without conceding; both games were level at half time before the Blues went on to get the winning goal(s). Both games also featured under 2.5 goals. View more of EB’s weekend tips here
- Everton to win and keep clean sheet
- Mirallas to score anytime / Everton win double
Selected Odds from Paddy Power
- 8/11 Under 2.5 goals
- 9/2 Draw H/T, Everton F/T
- 17/2 Anichebe last goal
For more Swansea v Everton related betting tips check out Paddy Power’s Everton betting zone.