Swansea and Everton played out a 1-1 draw at the Liberty Stadium, with the Swans likely to rue their many missed opportunities in a game where they went five points above the relegation zone against a complacent yet troublesome Everton side.
This is the second week in a row where Swansea have wasted another precious opportunity to take a big step towards safety, drawing against West Brom by the same scoreline in their previous match. If they had finished their chances in this game, and increased the tempo and desire last week, they could now be nine points away from the drop instead of five.Embed from Getty Images
The Swans started brightly here, buoyed by both an excellent atmosphere inside the Liberty Stadium and also by the extraordinary Chelsea comeback that led to their relegation rivals Southampton suffering a crushing defeat. As it was, the first half was a wave of Swansea pressure, with the first glaring chance of the match being cleared off the line by the Everton defence, at the expense of Federico Fernandez. Early Everton mistakes were in abundance, as they seemed intimidated by the early thrust of Swansea’s attacking options. Everton are safe from relegation but after so many millions spent in both transfer windows, their fans will be expecting better, and this was another negative, slightly lazy performance.
After so much Swansea domination, which included a bad miss from Andre Ayew when baring down on goal, it was almost inevitable that they would end the first half behind. A positive run from Séamus Coleman, who was Everton’s best attacking force, swung a cross to Bolasie, forcing Fabianski to palm the ball away. Idressa Gueye reacted quickest and the ball hit Fabianski, rebounded off Kyle Naughton’s face and over the line. Alfie Mawson’s clearance from inside the goal wasn’t enough and after a spell of sustained pressure, Swansea were behind.Embed from Getty Images
The stuffing seemed knocked out of Swansea after half time, despite creating even more chances to score. Tom Carroll was seconds away from scoring a free header before Jordan Pickford caught the ball first, while the Everton goalkeeper made another good save from a fierce Andre Ayew shot. Carvalhal bought on Tammy Abraham for Ki Sung-Yeung, in a desperate effort to score, and yet on the 71st minute, the goal came from the returning Jordan Ayew. Séamus Coleman’s terrible clearance, tarnishing a good performance, fell to Tom Carroll on the edge of the box, who hit an excellent outside of the boot ball to Jordan Ayew to the right of Pickford’s goal.
Ayew wasn’t closed down and yet crucially took his shot quickly, hitting it powerfully into the opposite corner of the net. It was an excellently taken goal which crucially coincided with a moment of quick thinking and alertness from both Carroll and Ayew, something Swansea lacked throughout the match. However, the frightening part of this for Swansea is that this goal could have been easily avoided, where a better clearance and then sharper reactions to close down could have helped Everton from preventing it entirely.
It was a gracious gift from Everton, another moment of sloppiness that have repeatedly tarnished their entire season, and it was their turn to be wasteful seconds after the equaliser where Walcott’s cutback was blasted onto the bar by Séamus Coleman from inside the penalty area. It would have been a typically silly moment for the home side, who have been their own worst enemies for two weeks in a row, and Everton’s sounds of frustration were drowned out by Swansea’s sighs of relief.
For the second week in a row, this is a result that will split Swansea supporters. Is this a point gained for Swansea, or two points lost? They’ve come back to claim a draw in both games but had their chances to win each, especially against Everton, and with two difficult games coming up against Manchester City and Chelsea, they will hope they still have breathing space by the time those games have finished. These are results that could, on reflection, be as valuable as any win by the time the season finishes, or could highlight where it all went wrong. Danger still looms for Swansea who, with a couple more moments of ruthlessness, could be breathing a little easier.Embed from Getty Images
As for Everton, their fans seem to be counting down the matches until the end of the season and when, presumably, Sam Allardyce leaves. He has been responsible for an upturn in results but his obvious baiting of his own supporters with snide press remarks, coupled with the mandatory defensive style of play, has left fans desperate to see him go. This draw does nothing to change their season, nor the fans outlook on their manager, and yet with a bit more motivation they could have so easily stolen the win.
While both teams will be hoping this result remains inconsequential to their overall season, perhaps even forgettable, Swansea will know that they are lucky to still be five points above the zone. Last year’s escape with relegation by Swansea was highlighted by such battling wins, finishing seven points above the drop in 15th. If they survive this year, it may not be through supreme and deserved results, but an unfortunate reliance on the mediocrity below them.
Written by Jack Hall.
22. An often foolishly optimistic Swansea City fan, writing previews and reports for 90MAAT. Currently finishing a Masters in Film at Southampton University. @apuffofJack