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Time to end century-long wait with that elusive win

By South Wales Evening Post  |  Posted: September 21, 2012

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IN 100 years and 14 days since their first league game, Swansea have never beaten their opponents this weekend.

Whether as Town or City, at Vetch Field, the Liberty or Goodison, Swansea have not once got the better of Everton.

Admittedly, they have spent many a season in different divisions.

But the two clubs have met 15 times down the decades, with 11 wins for the Blues and four draws along the way.

Aside from a clutch of teams in the lower leagues who Swansea have never faced — the likes of Fleetwood, Morecambe and Burton Albion — Everton are the only side in all four divisions who the club from SA1 have not overcome.

Swansea have ended various sequences in recent years, winning against teams or at grounds having not done so for some time.

Most recently, of course, they banished the hoodoo of Loftus Road, Michael Laudrup marking his first competitive game in charge with a thumping triumph over Queens Park Rangers.

Can the Dane inspire another landmark success against the Blues?

He is well aware of Everton's threats, for David Moyes has players Laudrup would have been well aware of long before he arrived on these shores over the summer.

But Laudrup has plenty of belief in the Swansea side he is moulding.

The feeling within the home dressing room tomorrow will be that if Ashley Williams and the rest get their game right, Everton can very definitely be toppled.

Moyes's men have been one of the form sides in the country in the first few weeks of 2012-13.

But they were well beaten at The Hawthorns in their previous away fixture, a result which gives Swansea further grounds for optimism this weekend.

What will not fill Swansea confidence is the memory of their last meeting with Everton, in Landore back in March.

There could be six survivors from the Swansea side which began that day in the starting XI this time around, and they won't have forgotten how slick Everton were last time they were in town.

The general consensus at the end of Swansea's maiden Premier League campaign, after all, was that Everton were the most impressive visiting outfit seen in this part of the world all season.

Classy players lurk throughout Moyes's team, whose set-up in the spring eventually smothered Swansea.

Brendan Rodgers's side began the game brightly, controlling the ball for much of the first half, but Everton shut off space and closed white jerseys down and Swansea ultimately buckled.

The men from Merseyside ran out 2-0 winners, the excellent Leighton Baines scoring a spectacular free-kick before Nikica Jelavic wrapped up the points.

Happily for Swansea, the livewire Jelavic looks like missing out tomorrow after clattering into the woodwork at Goodison the other night.

Even so, Moyes has good options.

There is Kevin Mirallas, the Belgian international forward who has made a bright start to life in England after a summer move from Olympiacos, or Victor Anichebe, scorer of one goal — it would have been two with goal-line technology — after he came off the bench to replace Jelavic in Monday's draw with Newcastle.

Anichebe has not always convinced Everton's fans since coming through the ranks, but the 24-year-old is a powerhouse centre-forward with an eye for the target.

"There's not a centre-half in the world who isn't going to find him a handful when he's playing like that," Baines suggested in the wake of the Newcastle draw.

Anichebe is not the only man in Everton colours who will need to be watched by Laudrup's rearguard.

Marouane Fellaini, he of the big hair and the big talent, has as much nuisance value as any player in the Premier League.

Then there is Mirallas, plus twinkle-toed midfield men like Leon Osman and Steven Pienaar and the left-back weapon who is Baines.

Everton have fine central defenders in Phil Jagielka and Sylvain Distin, plus a consistent goalkeeper in Tim Howard.

Given the squad Moyes has built, it should not be surprising to see Everton shining in the opening stages of the season.

"Of course," Laudrup concedes, "we will need to be sharp against Everton."

Manchester United were not good enough at Goodison on the opening weekend, Sir Alex Ferguson's side going down to a goal from the outstanding Fellaini.

Everton then romped home at Aston Villa before the Baggies slip-up, and they ought to have had victory No. 3 of the league season on the board this week.

A blend of Newcastle resilience and refereeing mistakes meant Everton ended with only a point, and they will head south believing they can go one better on a ground where they won so convincingly last season.

This is the kind of fixture Laudrup was referring to in pre-season when he spelt out the need for Swansea to have a plan B — and perhaps plan C — to help them successfully through their second Premier League adventure.

Laudrup believes that opposition sides are getting more and more used to the Swansea approach, and Everton very definitely found all the answers in the spring.

But there is a new regime at the Liberty these days, and Laudrup hopes Michu, Jonathan de Guzman and company will pose a set of trickier questions.

"Even when things seem under control, we must be focused on the smaller details," says Laudrup.

"We have to concentrate always."

The Swansea boss is pointing to the soft goals conceded of late, and the first objective tomorrow must be to handle Moyes's powerful frontline.

Manage that and Swansea will feel they have the firepower to land Everton's scalp — at last.

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  • hacker_jack  |  September 21 2012, 12:11PM

    Yeah it's a stupid stat. We've only ever spent 2 seasons at the same level as them so you would expect our record against them to be very poor. I'd be happy enough with a draw this time around myself.