Francesco Guidolin will be taking charge of Swansea City for the first time on Sunday as they head to Everton, a side that they have never beaten in nine previous Premier League meetings.
This is an important game for the hosts, who would be much further up the table were it not for the number of leads they have thrown away, and it has reached the stage now that seeds of doubt do appear when they take a narrow advantage into the closing stages of a match.
While they can justifiably claim that the equaliser they conceded last weekend at Chelsea should not have stood, they were still at fault for losing three aerial challenges in the build-up to John Terry’s back-heeled finish, and for blowing whay looked a comfortable 2-0 lead earlier in what was a sensational second half.
And therein lies the frustration for manager Roberto Martinez. His side are wonderful to watch going forward and pose a huge goalscoring threat, but too often this term they have let themselves down at the back when the nerves have set in. If they can eradicate that, the Toffees would be going great guns, and coming into this one they have a man in form in front of goal in the shape of Kevin Mirallas, who has re-established himself in recent weeks.
Watching from the stands as they moved out of the bottom three with victory over Watford on Monday, Guidolin will have been pleased by the determination shown by his new side as they held on to the first half lead given to them by captain Ashley Williams, who seemed to be on the end of every cross that entered their penalty area on the night. It was a better performance than some of the ones that had gone before it, but it was still a very anxious affair and the final whistle came as an immense relief.
Appointed to work alongside Alan Curtis but to have the final say on team selection, Guidolin’s arrival does represent something of a risk from the Swans due to his lack of experience working in the Premier League and the current position the club finds itself in, but chairman Huw Jenkins has a knack of getting this kind of decision right in the past. As for the XI he puts out out here, it will be interesting to see if he continues to go without a recognised striker.
Seamus Coleman and James McCarthy are both unlikely to return for Everton, but could be back in time for their Capital One Cup semi-final second leg at Manchester City.
Swansea’s only absentee is defender Franck Tabanou, but forward players Bafetimbi Gomis and Jefferson Montero will be among those pushing for recalls.
Last Meeting: A defensively minded performance from Swansea was enough to claim a point from a goalless draw at Goodison Park in November 2014 despite midfielder Jonjo Shelvey seeing red for a second bookable offence 18 minutes from the end. An organised defensive display meant that Everton were unable to carve out any clear opportunities as Phil Jagielka headed their best chance wide.
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