That was pretty alright in the end. Swansea found a little form, but just weren't good enough to stop Everton, who can now rely on individual brilliance to settle games when the passing and movement isn't getting it done. With seriously good teams, you can often anticipate their goals, their play developing with a surging fizz that lets you know that one way or another, it's getting happened.
Thanks for your company and comments, sorry I couldnae use them all. Bye.
FULL-TIME: Swansea City 1-2 Everton
90+1 min "Just like a team that's gonna win the football league", crows the away end, and who can blame them? This is the best side, by a mile, that they've seen in nearly 30 years.
90 min There'll be three minutes of stoppage time, and Barkley ensures that the first will be dicey for his team, felling Hernandez by the right edge of the box. Shelvey's cross is headed away, but Everton don't clear, and a subsequent cross is nodded away by Distin - to the edge of the area, and Lamah (whose name means "why?" in Hebrew). Anyway, he wipes his right instep across a superbly controlled volley, that Howard tips over, and again, Everton fail to clear a set-piece. Eventually, Davies slings over a diagonal cross that Distin stretches to hook away - from behind him - and misses, the ball dropping for Vazquez - who also misses, unable to hold his run, the ball passing between his legs.
88 min The ball is moving backwards and forwards, but everyone appears to be resolved that this is over.
86 min Everton are a team.
GOAL! Swansea City 1-2 Everton (Barkley, 84)
Aaaah, aaaah, ahhhh, aaaah! Barkley paces and swings his right foot hard, slamming over the wall and onto the underside of the bar - it's fairly central, but the canon gives Tremmel no chance, and the ball shoots down over the line as Barkley continues his nash, over towards the away fans and knee-sliding with vicious intensity.
83 min Everton win a free-kick on the right, 30 yards out - for a foul by Ben Davies, on whom I did not see. Behind it, Barkley and Lukaku...
82 min Vazquez seizes on a hopeful through-pass that actually puts him through, and accelerating away at inside-right, Distin catches up. Unwilling to trust his pace, and like many a slowcoach before him, attempts a chip instead, perfectly locating midriff of Howard.
80 min Everton have been quiet for the last few minutes - and Swansea actually look more dangerous. Tiendalli nashes down the right and whips over a cross aimed at Vazquez - but Jagielka is up well to head clear.
79 min Relative calm.
77 min Pienaar competes for a loose ball with Boy Flowers, and absorbs a body kick - similar commitment a few minutes ago, and Everton would still be ahead. He departs, replaced by Naismith, and Mirallas does too, Osman on in his stead.
76 min Change for Swansea, Vaz-quez replacing Bony, in whose connection: surely he's a terrace anthem extolling his bravery?
75 min "Let's see Ashley Cole do that", says Gary Naylor, without specifying as to what "that" constitutes. No doubt he would also do anything for love, but not the aforementioned unspecified.
74 min As the man who found three holes in the ground said...
NOT A BRILLIANT GOAL BUT A GOAL NONETHELESS! Swansea City 1-1 Everton (Tiendalli, 70)
It's a hilarious aged pastime. Swansea muster a token attack, Davies crossing towards the back post - where Pienaar loiters long enough for Tiendalli to thrust a foot in front of him. The ball is headed wide and plenty, but clips Oviedo and tricklespins past Howard and in, close to the far corner. Now we'll see what Everton have...
68 min "We're gonna win the league" hollers the away end, and...
BRILLIANT GOAL! Swansea City 0-1 Everton (Coleman, 66)
Seamus Coleman is hotter than an indeterminate condiment! Swansea never really escape the corner, and Pienaar moves the ball inside to McCarthy, who finds Coleman. Who outswings a screeching, spitting, hissing drive that's past Tremmel in a trice.
65 min Deciding that he's had enough of all this, Barkley sets off from halfway and leaves De Guzman huffing and puffing, pulling left into the middle, past Flores, and screwing his body into a cross shot that a flying Tremmel can only beat against the bar.
62 min Coleman, who really looks a player, rummages downfield again, forcing Routledge to slide in and cede a corner. It comes to nowt, but Everton immediately regain possession and come again. McCarthy drives crossfield towards Distin, still in the box, and he heads towards Flores - who can only slice upwards. When the ball descends, Barry, on the left of the box and perhaps 12 yards out, contorts his body into a leaping hook, that rides just over the bar.
60 min "There are three pretty decent England centre-midfield candidates out there," observes John Boon. "Would you take any of them to Brazil?"
I'd take Barkley in a second - England aren't going to do much, so should be giving experience to those who might in future. And yeah, I'd try and find room for Barry, too, but realistically, he's behind Carrick, and not sure you'd want both.
58 min Everton are playing like a properly good team here, not just doing good things, but developing increasing momentum and intensity; they know that it's coming, and they know that Swansea know too, and Swansea know that they know that they know. And all that.
56 min There's a goal in the post here, Swansea lamping another cross to wherever Bony isn't and allowing Everton to break. Cruising forwards, Oviedo slips forward and infield for Lukaku, who rearranges his feet with impeccable dexterity to turn the ball on one more for Barkley, homing in on goal. And then he slips over, regarding the shifting grass with disgust. Raymond Verheijen would have scored that twice.
53 min Another Everton attack, Ovideo given time and space to swing over a cross - and again, Coleman propels his body into a sprint, culminating with a jump-stretch that surprises Routledge, who does enough undirected way-getting to avert the danger.
52 min A little progress from Everton, Barkley dreadnoughting through midfield and sliding a straight ball for Mirallas, ahead. But he can't quite trick inside, and Swansea clear.
49 min This is brilliant from Barry, who lifts from centre-right to right and into the corner - for no one, apparently. But then, as the backspin imparts, Coleman appears, nashing in pursuit and contriving a low cross towards Lukaku at the penalty spot, Flores doing well to see him away.
48 min Has anyone ever had their arm broken by the wing of an angry swan?
47 min Everton cede a free-kick on their left, and De Guzman swings it in, while Williams runs backwards and forwards with ostentatious purpose. Distin immeidatley heads clear, but all were nonetheless impressed.
46 min Everton kick-off.
"Although to calm the waters" volunteers Lee Burrows, in between flagellation and all the rest, "John Bush would be more in keeping with the floral theme of Spanish names today."
Too little, too late, sunshine.
Talking of Brendan Brendan Himself, as we were earlier, a few wins, a few goals, and suddenly he's the Don. " I can't remember the last time that you invited me to your house for a cup of coffee, even though my wife is godmother to your only child."
And one final one, Chris Fowler supplying further detail: "I'm afraid that John Atkinson is wrong in his comment about Juan Mata. In Spain, cigarette packets carry the slogan "Fumar mata", or "Smoking kills". So Juan Mata does, indeed, mean Juan kills. John is right in saying that "mata" is also a bush or undergrowth, but as "mata" is the third person singular of the verb "matar" (to kill), the "translation" of "Juan kills" at least has a meaning."
Fight, fight, fight. Here's Lee Burrows, and he's taking off his top. "Actually John Atkinson, to conjugate matar when talking about another single person would be mata. So Jonny Kills it is. Juan Matar would be John To Kill."
And Gabriel Arrisueno Fajardo knows it too: "Native Spanish speaker here. Juan Mata's translation is indeed "Jonny Kills". Juan Matar would be "Jonny To Kill". "Mata", has several meanings, one of them is "bush"; another is "kills".
Half-time ad break. Who can watch Barkley play without salivating? No one who grew up in the 80s, that's for sure.
Not much going on, here. Both teams are trying, but Everton haven't quite found the zip that's defined their best performances, and Swansea are in no sort of form. Sorry.
HALF-TIME: Swansea City 0-0 Everton
45+1 min Hernandez snakes in off the right and carves inside Oviedo to make the angle for a shot, but with the ball sliding away from his left foot, swipes across it and watches with understated mirth and rue as it flashes wide.
45 min There shall be one added minute. Use it wisely, boys.
44 min Dream killing, with John Atkinson: "I'd read before that folk think Juan Mata means John Kills and I'm afraid it ain't so. Juan Matar would be on the money, but Mata means bush or shrub which is massively less exciting."
What if it's a killer shrub, then? How about that? Exactly.
42 min Hernandez, by the right corner flag, pokes square to Jonjo Beckham, who larrups indiscriminately into the middle. Bony is there, back to goal, and flings himself into an overhead kick that trickles towards Howard, the cost a thud to the coccyx.
41 min Bill Kenwright - sorry, "theatre impressario, Bill Kenwright" - and Glenn Hoddle - have the same hairdresser. Beat that, Columbo.
40 min I said this should be a good game, but then this should be a good life, too.
38 min Slight kerfuffle in the Swansea box, and Everton win a free-kick from the left, deep in their attacking half, sent towards the back post. A phalanx of bodies rises in its anticipation, one of which intercedes before Jagielka can head home.
36 min A lull. Here's Lee Burrows, writing from the bottom of a hole:
"Speaking of Flores' name - It translates as Boy Flowers, if I'm not mistaken. Also just in case there was any doubt how cool Juan Mata is his name means Jonny Kills!"
Any more for any more? Tal Ben-Haim - or "Ben", as Not Insubstantial Samuel used to call him - means Dew Son Of-Life.
34 min "Fellaini is predictable, Barkley has flair," reckons Peter Doran. "David Moyes has a fear of flair. He is predictability personified."
I'm not sure that's fair - he gave debuts to both Barkley and Januzaj. But it's an odd to-do nonetheless.
32 min Routledge races in off the left, and seeing Bony zoning across his path, slips a reverse ball between Distin and Coleman. Bony duly advances and bludgeons a shot as hard as he can, that flies high into the clear Welsh winter night sky, with poetic uselessness.
31 min Davies slides a square ball to Hernandez and takes the return, sliding and curving hard towards the corner for Routledge. With Bony pointing to precisely where he wants it, peeling away, he instead thumps hard to not where he wants it.
29 min Barry and McCarthy is a very pleasing combination, the kind that can finish both the quick and cryptic crossword.
28 min Swansea have been a little better these last two minutes without actually doing anything - a result of sorts, because Everton were racking them up.
26 min "Hi Daniel," chirps Stuart Steel. "My laptop has broken so I'm listening to the game on 5 live and looking at MBM. I like John Hartson but did he just say "he left him as toast"? What does that even mean?"
That he dropped him on his face, I think.
24 min It's very hard not to be reduced to a drooling, quivering, kvelling mess by Ross Barkley; he does everything which such natural groove and power. And, in possession on the right of the Swansea box, he draws Williams then glides by him - forcing what the laws the game know as a foul, but one that the referee can escape without awarding, so he doesn't.
22 min Flores, who likes the name Chico and wears a ponytail, finds himself around the right-back area and leans back into a pass befitting of a man so prepossessed and casuwal. Only Mirallas is straight up in his coupon and blocks, barging past and advancing. With Lukaku waving arms and hair to his right, and with no one between him and goal, Mirallas steps inside and shoots hard, his effort blocked by Williams. Silly behaviours.
19 min A velvet glance around the corner from Barkley almost sets McCarthy at the Swansea defence, but De Guzman steps in to ruin. Swansea then attack down the right, and Jonjo Keane leaps into a challenge with Coleman, studding the ball away from him and facilitating a cross - but play is called back for a foul. There follows minor outrage and distress.
18 min Everton are very quick to collapse into defensive formation when they lose the ball - they really do look like they know what they're doing - and force Hernandez to run across them, right-to-left, and back again, bereft of ideas and friends.
16 min If Raymond Verheijen were coaching both of these teams, it would be both 76-all and -56-all. World peace would also have been achieved.
14 min Everton are into this now, and McCarthy nashes into a challenge to find Mirallas, encroaching into the box on the right. He shoots low and hard, but Davies blocks, and seconds later, when the ball arrives at his feet in similar position, is robbed by Canas' slide.
12 min "He's got a lovely gait about him, Barkley," says Niall Quinn, as Barkley demonstrates his lovely git - the reverse Henderson, you might say. And it's certainly remarkable that his former manager not only thought Marouane Fellaini worth 2,800,000,000 cola bottles, but didn't think about adding the overs that would have arranged him a footballer rather than a lampshade.
11 min "Hey" says Phil Podolsky after the modern fashion. "Same topic, better singer. And it's not little, it's medium-sized you *naughty words* etc .
9 min Everton stroke the ball around, revelling in the display of patience and composure, before Pienaar embarks on a spin to meet a pass from Barry, setting off too early and ceding possession.
7 min Jonjo Robson appears in his own area to intercept a pass and finds Tiendali, sprinting forwards to accept a return - one that he can't quite funnel back out wide. But he has started this game like an absolute lunatic.
5 min Roberto Martinez received a generally warm welcome from the home crowd, many of whom were agitated when he left , particularly after his chastisement of players who did the very same.
3 min The elusive Jonjo Ronaldo appears on the left, and this time cuts back a cross - and Routledge is there again, inside the box, close to its left corner. He flays a shot well wide, but still has green eyes, so it's fine.
2 min Shelvey galumphs down the right and curves over a brilliant low cross between keeper and defence that's just too far away Coleman to clear. But Routledge had assumed to the contrary, standing like a haporth as the ball scooshes past precisely where he ought to have been.
1 min Swansea knock stuff around, Everton run around with desire to knock stuff around.
1 min We have started.
What's the score going to be? Raymond Verheijen must have said.
The players are out. Stand by for adverts - LIVE!
Email, with Nick Garland, able to muster a surprising amount of enthusiasm: "Noel Gallagher and UNKLE? Bollocks", he politely and sagely rejoinders. "Here's a real rock & roll tribute to Martinez's achievements."
I couldn't find the non-Gallagher version, I'm afraid. Please forgive me, I know not what I do
, please forgive me, I can't stop loving you.
Profundity. Swansea bring back Tremmel for Vorm, who's having knee stuff done, and Tiendalli, Flores, Routledge and Bony also get to play. Michu, on the other hand, is still suffering from dicky ankle, and stays at home.
Everton make two changes: McCarthy returns from suspension and ousts Osman, while Mirallas gets back in as Deulofeu is injured.
And your teams:
Swansea (4-2-3-1, naturligvis): Tremmel; Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies; Canas, De Guzman; Routledge, Shelvey, Hernandez; Bony. Subs: Amat, Taylor, Britton, Lamah, Pozuelo, Vazquez, Zabret.
Everton (4-2-3-1, obviamente): Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Oviedo; McCarthy, Barry; Mirallas, Barkley, Pienaar; Lukaku. Subs: Robles, Heitinga, Naismith, Osman, Stones, Vellios, Alcaraz.
@PerryMason: Lee Mason (Lancashire)
Preamble Little things can have a big effect; that time you accidentally commented on someone's attire and ended up with a knife in your leg, for example, or that other time you took a wrong turn and ended up meeting your wife. Little things can have a big effect.
In January 2003, Roberto Martinez left Walsall to sign a short-term contract with Swansea; a little thing, doing a little thing, that would have a big effect on four English clubs. He ended up staying in Wales for three years, nipped across to Chester for one more, then, when the manager who released him was sacked, came back as his replacement.
Martinez revolutionised Swansea, leading them to the League 1 title in his first full season, before leaving for Wigan. He proceeded to keep them in the top division for three years, fashioning a new side each time as players were sold, then motivated and organised a team that fully deserved its Cup Final victory over Manchester City; an eternal achievement worth far more than another season of Premier League struggling.
In the meantime, Brendan Rodgers, his successor at Swansea, adopted his proforma to win a further promotion that he consolidated well enough to earn the manager's job at Liverpool. So in came Michael Laudrup, who modified sterile into virile domination, won a trophy, and then qualified for the Europa League knockout stages.
Overlooked in favour of Rodgers for the Liverpool job,when David Moyes left for Manchester United, Martinez went to Everton, and his impact was immediate. Despite recent revisionism, Everton played some decent football under Moyes - but their liberation since his departure has been remarkable, the treble up, the bass down, the lights on and the window open.
Or, put another way, hanks to Roberto Martinez, this should be a very good game; without him, it wouldn't even be happening. Little things can have a big effect.