Swansea City-Everton Preview
LONDON (SE) - Everton are rolling, putting them on the cusp of breaking into the top four of the Premier League.
Swansea City are looking to build on a stunning victory over one of those clubs.
The Toffees attempt to win for the sixth time in eight tries Saturday when they host the Swans, who are looking to remain unbeaten for a seventh match in a row.
Everton (9-9-3) are 4-2-1 in their last seven league matches, climbing into fifth place in the table and two points back of Chelsea for fourth.
The Toffees' strong stretch continued in the FA Cup on Monday, winning 5-1 over League Two's Cheltenham Town.
While manager David Moyes feels the storied cup competition has lost its lustre, he'd still like to win it while trying to finish high enough in the league to qualify for Champions League.
"There is so much at stake to be in the Premier League - there is so much coverage in the media - that it has put the FA Cup in the background, but it's a cup competition that everyone wants to win," Moyes told the team's official website.
Leighton Baines is giving Moyes good reason to feel optimistic about both competitions, as he continues to emerge as one of the best defenders in England. He's even getting involved in the scoring, netting a goal in each of the last two games, with one off a free kick in a 2-1 victory over Newcastle in Everton's most recent league match Jan. 2.
"It would be very hard to find someone (better)," forward Victory Anichebe said of Baines' ability on free kicks.
Anichebe may get another chance to do his part after being included in the first team Monday after scoring his fifth goal of the season in Newcastle. One of those tallies opened the scoring in a 3-0 win away to Swansea (7-8-6) on Sept. 22, as Everton beat them for the third straight meeting.
"I have said before that he needs a little bit of self-confidence," Moyes said.
Swansea are 2-4-0 since a 1-0 loss to Tottenham on Dec. 16, but they're surely brimming with confidence after beating Chelsea 2-0 as the visitors in the first leg of the semifinals of the League Cup on Wednesday. The return leg is scheduled for Jan. 23.
The Swans are known for their offensive-minded play, but needed to withstand being outshot 24-5 while giving up the vast majority of possession to the Blues.
"We have already achieved some historic results this year," manager Michael Laudrup told Swansea's official website. "But to win at the home of the European champions is fantastic.
"Even when we can't play our normal game, with lots of possession, it shows we can play differently."
Michu continues to show he can produce goals no matter the tactics. The forward, who may be the shrewdest transfer of the season in the league, leads the Swans with 16 goals and his 13 in league play tie him for third with Chelsea's Demba Ba.
Michu has three goals in five games, and they've come against Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United.
Danny Graham is giving Swansea another potent threat up top, getting a goal in each of the last four games to give him seven on the season.