From the opening pitch, Everton came out with a feverish attack that put Swansea City on their heels. They got right to the outside of Swansea's box in the opening minute as Marouane Fellaini made a rocketing shot on goal, only to have it saved by Michel Vorm. When the rebound went Everton's way, again Vorm came through with a critical stop when Victor Anichebe sent another shot on goal.
That early match sequence in the first two minutes set the tone for the next 88. Everton continually got chances deep inside the Swansea defense but failed to take advantage at just about every turn. The two teams went into halftime tied at zero, despite Everton taking a whopping nine shot attempts compared to just three for Swansea.
In fact, Swansea City's own Twitter feed even noticed how dangerous Everton was from the crosses:
Distin heads over Vorm's bar from a corner. Everton still looking dangerous from crosses.— Swansea City FC (@SwansOfficial) January 12, 2013
Of course, there is much credit due to the Swansea defenders. After those first two shots went on goal in the first half, only one of the remaining seven was on goal.
In the second half, the story was almost identical. Everton again came out and drove their attack right into Swansea's box, with Phil Neville getting two great scoring opportunities in the 46th minute. Vorm was once again able to make the needed stops and Swansea walked away from that critical opportunity unscathed.
Little did Everton know that that would be the last time one of their shots went on goal. Despite continued efforts and great opportunities from inside and outside the box, every Everton shot went either off-target or was blocked for remainder of the game.
Most critical among those errors were missed opportunities from defenders Sylvain Distin and Phil Jagielka that both looked like very solid scoring chances at first glance.
Meanwhile, Swansea did anything they could to keep Everton off the attack and come away with the table point. Whenever they had possession, they consistently attempted to keep the ball out of Everton's hands and were noticeably conservative—even when their top attackers were dribbling on the attack.
After getting three scoring opportunities in the first half, Swansea City only took one shot in the final 45 minutes—and that came in the 54th minute on an attempt from outside the box. They essentially played like a team that knew it was outclassed and took advantage of Everton's mistakes to come through with a critical draw.
Overall, the match has to be a frustrating blow for Everton. They came into this week's slate of matches in position to gain on fourth-place Tottenham, who is off this week before playing Manchester United next Sunday. A win against a lesser team like Swansea City could have gone a long way toward Everton's Champions League dreams.
As for Swansea, Saturday's draw is yet another boon in a season full of solid results for the club. They're not going to contend for any titles, but Michael Laudrup's club has to feel good about improving on last season's 11th-pace finish.
Michel Vorm, Swansea City: A
Despite Everton's best efforts throughout the match, Vorm continually was a stalwart in the net. He manned his position especially well on Saturday, stopping five shots and being the vital cog in Swansea's surprisingly great performance.
He could have probably done without the yellow card, though.
Nikica Jelavic, Everton: C
As one of many players who led a strong Everton attack, Jelavic seemingly had plenty of opportunities to make a big play. Unfortunately for the Toffees, their striker could not finish the job against Swansea.
None of Jelavic's five shots wound up on goal, which is almost as good as turning the ball over for his team. Everton will undoubtedly expect better form than that going forward.
Michu, Swansea City: C
With their more-talented opponent struggling to capitalize on their scoring opportunities, this was a very winnable game for Swansea City. Had Michu, the club's leading scorer, been able to get any worthwhile penetration on the attack, the Jacks could have pulled off a massive upset.
Instead, Michu took a whopping one shot on goal on Saturday and also drew a yellow card for his troubles. Swansea is undoubtedly happy with walking away with point, but they have to wonder what could have been had their attack had a better match.
Tim Howard, Everton: A
The United States' national team goalkeeper didn't have all that much to do on Saturday. Swansea's attack was exceedingly conservative and he saw only four shots (three on goal) sprayed his way throughout the match.
Nonetheless, he did his job when asked, and that's just about all you can ask from a 'keeper.
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