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Monday, 26 March 2012

Swansea 0 - Everton 2

Two games against Everton this season and two Shots on Target in those 180 minutes highlight that we were up against an extremely well organised side who in Steven Pienaar in particular (along with an impressive cameo from Fellaini) have quality combined with an impressive work ethic.

Sigurdsson again had the most shots of any Swansea player with 5, with Graham only having 2 shots all game

At Goodison, Swansea only managed 5 attempts on goal in what was a sensibly defensive approach which worked in the previous game against Newcastle
It’d be far too simplistic to say that having a “They don’t like it up ‘em” approach against Swansea is the best way to deal with our passing game but with Norwich and now Everton both having done the double over us would suggest that a pressing game can pay dividends.

One of the more noticeable aspects of the game was how deep Leon Britton was having to come to receive the ball, which in turn pulls Allen and Sigurdsson further pack making Graham even more isolated than usual.

Leon's passing v Everton and Man City, highly accurate as always but deeper vs. Everton compared to Man City.

Sigurdsson made almost a third fewer passes against Everton compared with against Man City and only made 8 forward passes in the game compared with 18 against Man City and 18 against Fulham.

With Leon playing deeper, Sigurdsson's areas of activity were more that of a central than an attacking midfielder

It’s a huge credit to Wayne Routledge’s performances that Dyer, last year’s player of the season and a strong candidate to retain that accolade this year was not particularly missed in the games against Man City and Fulham.

Against a side however who press, Dyer’s pace and ability to go past players is a huge asset as any opposition pressing will naturally leave bigger gaps behind.  In the Everton game no Swansea player attempted more than take-on despite the fact that 5 out of 6 of them were successful.

With Leon dropping deep the game saw a sort of swapping of roles with him and Steven Caulker seeing Caulker often playing further forward.  Comparing the passing of the two centre backs on Saturday, Caulker’s forward activity can be seen along with a number of Ashley Williams’ trademark long diagonal balls. 

A recent Whoscored.com stat suggested Williams makes the most inaccurate passes in his own half of any Premier League player, this will in part be due to the sheer number of passes made but also due to the ambitious crossfield balls.

As well as the interaction of Rangel and Dyer, these crossfield passes are in part why Swansea have the second highest proportion of attacks coming from the right hand side of any Premier League activity (41% - average is 35%).

This was a game that could have finished 0-0 but for Leighton Baines’ superb free kick.  Personally, with a free kick in that position against someone of Baines’ ability, I’d be tempted to pack the goal line and take my chances in a mad scramble rather than let him have (for a player of his ability) so much goal to aim at.  That said, such was the quality of the strike you could have put Caulker on the line and it could well have still gone in.

Everton were deserving winners and in the last 20 minutes could have made it 3 or even more as Swansea appeared overly eager to chase the game.  A frustrating but by no means bad Swansea performance but it’s great to be considering the game as a match-up between two comfortable mid-table teams with hopes of a top 8 finish.

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