Three key battles
Jonjo Shelvey v Ross Barkley
Once upon a time, there was some (admittedly mild) suggestion these two could form the centre of England’s midfield.
Jonjo Shelvey was the first to break his way in the England squad while with Liverpool, although he has been on the outside looking in since switching to South Wales.
Nevertheless, his combative nature, decent vision and love of long shooting have made him central to Garry Monk’s thinking, even if he sometimes oversteps the mark with some daft and dangerous decisions.
Ross Barkley, though, has gone from strength to strength with the Three Lions, even if his form with Everton has fluctuated along with the Blues’ campaign.
But the youngster appears to have built on the confidence gained from his impressive cameo for his county in Italy at the end of last month.
Both Barkley and Shelvey will be keen to send Roy Hodgson a reminder.
Wayne Routledge v Leighton Baines
While it would be going a bit far to suggest Leighton Baines has found his first-team place under threat, the emergence of Luke Garbutt has at least given him a gentle reminder nobody’s spot can be taken for granted.
Baines will have his hands full with Wayne Routledge, who has become a mainstay of the Swansea attack since a nomadic career saw him rock up at the Liberty Stadium in 2011.
Everton v Swansea City at Goodison Park. Leighton Baines celebrates scoring from the spot. Picture by Gareth Jones
With Swansea reliant on width and, despite their love of possession, more than happy to strike on the counter-attack, the tussle between Routledge and Baines on the Everton left could be key.
Gylfi Sigurdsson v Gareth Barry
Some players are best suited at certain clubs. Such is the case with Gylfi Sigurdsson who, after a loan spell at Swansea, found life far more difficult at Tottenham Hotspur before returning to South Wales.
Seven goals this season is a decent return for the Iceland international, whose free-kick prowess means Everton will be loathe to concede needless fouls around the penalty area.
Sigurdsson tends to float in an attacking midfield role (otherwise known as the position with no real responsibility), meaning James McCarthy and, as is more likely, Gareth Barry will be tasked with negating his threat.
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