Everton Club Focus – Toffees boosted by Swansea victory ahead of Sunderland FA Cup tie

Everton got back to winning ways with an impressive 2-0 victory over Swansea City on Saturday, goals from Leighton Baines and Nikica Jelavic ending the Toffees’ three game winless run and providing a timely boost to David Moyes’ side ahead of the FA Cup quarter-final replay with Sunderland on Tuesday.

The victory over the Welsh side was a triumph for Moyes, as the Everton manager set out his team with a clear game plan constructed to neutralise Swansea and then strike once the Swans had been ground out of the game. Everton tactics blog the Executioner’s Bong noted that Tim Cahill covered almost exactly the amount of ground as Swansea’s deep-lying playmaker Leon Britton – the Australian registering 2.76 miles of running to Britton’s 2.78 miles – and in effect pressing Britton into ineffectiveness. The article also notes Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar were used to cut off the supply from goalkeeper Michel Vorm to Swansea’s full-backs, forcing the Dutchman into a hurried pass or a long clearance. The utilisation of Cahill, Osman and Pienaar is a textbook example of defending from the front.

That sort of pressing will need to be replicated at the Stadium of Light to prevent the dangerous James McClean and Stephane Sessegnon sending the Black Cats to a Wembley date with Liverpool. Everton largely marshalled McClean in the first fixture while Sessegnon missed the match through suspension, but with Seamus Coleman injured Everton have lost their one half of their usual pairing employed against dangerous wingers. Coleman and Phil Neville have routinely kept quiet the likes of Gareth Bale but Osman may continue on the right of midfield against Sunderland, and the long-serving midfielder will have to be at his industrious best to team with the right-back and keep McClean on the fringes of the match. Sessegnon is capable of troubling any defence with his powerful runs from deep, meaning Marouane Fellaini, rested against Swansea, will have to be alert to snuff out the forward.

Fellaini is almost certain to return to the midfield after sitting out much of the match at Swansea, only entering the fray in the 58th minute in place of Cahill. Neville started in midfield instead and entered a resolute performance, not perhaps the most cultured but one of the more effective. But two games in four days may be too much for the 35-year-old, particularly considering that if the ex-Manchester United player does feature, it will most likely be at right-back against McClean. Neville struggled occasionally versus Bale against Tottenham Hotspur a few weeks ago when left isolated, appearing so afraid of Bale’s pace that he instead stood off and let Bale beat him with a simple cross instead. Yet Neville remains a driving force at Goodison Park, and exemplifies the tactical discipline that brought victory over Swansea and will be needed again against the Mackems. With Jelavic also on the score sheet at the Liberty Stadium Everton could not have had better preparation for their trip to the North East.

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