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Ratcliffe Predicts Swans Repeat

by Daniel Alston @efc_danalston

Everton v Swansea

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Kevin Ratcliffe believes Everton will continue their unbeaten record against Swansea when the two sides meet at Goodison Park on Saturday.

The Blues have never lost to the Swans in their history and have claimed victory in the three meetings since the Welsh side earned promotion to the Premier League 18 months ago.

A 1-0 home win in September 2011 was bettered by 2-0 and 3-0 away triumphs in March and September 2012. And ahead of this weekend's encounter, former Club captain Ratcliffe is predicting a similar result.

"At the moment we seem to be Swansea's bogey team," he told evertonfc.com. "Last year we played exactly the same at the Liberty as this season - we closed them down high up the pitch, we never let them settle and we deservedly won.

"I must admit the home game against them was a bit of a non-entity, it wasn't the best of games. But the two away wins were exceptional and we've rightly taken maximum points off them since they came up to the Premier League."

Under new boss Michael Laudrup, the Swans have continued to shock established top-flight sides - most notably winning at Anfield and the Emirates this term.

But while the Welshmen have received plenty of praise for their effervescent style, Ratcliffe believes Everton have shown it is possible to neutralise their attacking potency.

He said: "They're as good as you let them be. If you let them, they'll knock the ball about well, pass and move and create chances. If you don't allow them to do that, they have to scrap, which isn't something they do best.

"They were the surprise package when they came into the Premier League, but I don't think they surprise anyone any more, because everyone knows how they play. Under Michael Laudrup, their play is very similar to how they were under Brendan Rodgers, with just a few small tinkerings.

“They seem more direct at times now and they do mix it up, and I've been impressed with that.

“I've been watching them for a few years and the mentality the chairman has got there is to bring in someone who keeps with the style of football, and that's what he has achieved."

If the Blues are to record their third win of 2013, keeping a similarly free-scoring Swansea at bay will be paramount.

One player who has shone in particular is summer signing Michu, the club's top scorer with 13 league goals.

Ratcliffe believes the Spaniard's attributes make him a credible threat, but also highlighted the influence of the game's venue when considering an outcome.

He said: "Michu's a good arriver for crosses coming in, his build-up play is good and he gets involved. His all-round game is great but sometimes your first season is a surprise to everyone and strikers tend to be judged on their second year in the Premier League. At the moment it seems everything he does goes in the back of the net.

"But it's at Goodison Park and it's a challenge for anybody coming here. It doesn't matter if you're top of the league or bottom of the league, you're going to get a tough game.

“Everton have one of those grounds that becomes an arena, a battleground, mainly because of the tightness and the atmosphere in the ground. It's completely different to a lot of these new stadiums you see now and it will be tough for Swansea, no doubt."

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Tickets for Saturday’s game are still available. To buy, click here or call 0871 663 1878.

Alternatively, visit the Park End Box Office at Goodison Park, Everton Two in Liverpool One or TicketQuarter in Queen Square.

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