October 30, 2014

Overachievers in each of their four seasons in the Premier League, Swansea City are trying to maintain their top-flight status in 2016.

Francesco Guidolin is now tasked with making that happen.

Guidolin makes his debut on the Swans' bench Sunday when they try to win consecutive matches for the first time this season against Everton.

Promoted to the Premier League for the first time in 2011, Swansea (5-7-10) left little doubt they belonged in the top flight while finishing 12th or better in each season - including an eighth-place finish last year.

Things haven't gone nearly as smoothly in 2015-16 with the Swans mired in a relegation fight that cost manager Garry Monk his job last month.

Now, they're looking for Guidolin to save them.

The Italian manager was heralded for his superb stint at Udinese from 2010-14, qualifying for Champions League twice and Europa League once.

That wasn't lost on Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins.

"He has an excellent record, especially with Udinese over the last few years," Jenkins told the team's official website. "He created an Udinese side from a relatively small budget - compared to the rest of the league - that competed with the big teams in Serie A.

"He instilled a belief and motivation to compete and beat the best Italy had to offer. It is similar to what this football club is trying to do in the Premier League."

Hours following his appointment Monday, Guidolin watched Swansea beat Watford 1-0 with Alan Curtis acting as interim manager. Curtis will stay on to assist Guidolin.

"It's always good to have the confidence after a win - it's a nice feeling that we have missed for a while and hopefully now we can kick on and go on a bit of a run," defender Jack Cork said. "We should be going to Everton with no fear."

The Swans, though, are among the lowest scoring teams in the league with 20 goals and have managed only one while drawing their last three meetings with Everton (6-11-5). That includes a scoreless draw at Goodison Park on Nov. 1, 2014.

The Toffees, however, have surrendered eight goals over the last four matches (0-3-1). The manner in which they've come have been particularly brutal. After Ramiro Funes Mori put Everton ahead in the 90th minute, they gave up a disputed goal deep in stoppage time to settle for a 3-all draw with Chelsea last weekend.

"We got the first two goals in front of them, we were the better side but we have to manage the game better," defender Leighton Baines told the team's official website. "We didn't do it. We have conceded three goals in a game where we were never really under that kind of pressure.

"We did so well to get the three goals and get ourselves ahead in the game twice. We've only got ourselves to blame for not managing the game well enough really."

Romelu Lukaku doesn't have a goal in three straight matches for the first time since going four in a row from Aug. 23-Sept. 19. His final game over that stretch was a scoreless draw with Swansea, placing Everton's only two shots on target among the 17 the Toffees attempted.

The forward's 15 goals have him tied with Leicester City's Jamie Vardy for the league lead entering this weekend.

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