Friday, 1 December 2017

A Key January for the Swans: The Players to Help Keep Them in the Top Flight

It’s been another rough start to the season for Swansea City. The Welsh club sit uncomfortably in the relegation zone having won just two in 13.

Paul Clement still believes he’s the man to take them forward, and the board are seemingly sticking with him. Tony Pulis has been rumoured to be interested in the job and Clement is the favourite amongst football betting teams to be sacked next in the Premier League.

Either way, work in the January transfer window is needed, and rumours are flying about who could make their way to the Liberty Stadium in the new year…

Santiago Arias

The full back areas are definitely in need of improvement at Swansea and they seem keen on making a move for PSV right back Santiago Arias.

The 25-year-old has been plying his trade in the Dutch Eredivisie since 2013 and has notched up 134 appearances for his club.

He’s highly regarded in his home nation of Colombia and a move to the Premier League is high on his agenda.

The Swans were put off by a £12million price tag in the summer, but times are a little more desperate now.

Jonathan Viera

Speaking of desperate, the Swansea attack is in dire need of talent. Having lost Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente in the summer, they’ve not really replaced their goals.

The return of Wilfried Bony has failed to set the world alight, so a new face, or a few, will be vital in January.

It’ll be make or break for the man in charge when it comes to buying new attackers. Jonathan Viera of Las Palmas seems the most likely man to turn to.

He was called up to the Spain squad recently but a £30million release clause could prove to be a sticking point.

The 28-year-old was linked with a move in the summer but nothing materialised, will it be a case of same again?

Vincent Aboubakar

Another player who was linked with signing for the Swans in the summer is Vincent Aboubakar.

The Porto man is dead set on a move to England and his form will make him a wanted man this January.

The Cameroonian forward has 14 goals in 16 games for the Portuguese outfit, goals that’d be vital for Paul Clement’s men.

He’s shown an interest in the club, the club now need to go and get him. 

Monday, 30 October 2017

Which Swans manager has the best Premier League win ratio?

Paul Clement's job is edging closer to being untenable according to the majority of Swansea City fans, despite his heroics at the back of end last season.

Saturday's disappointing display in the 2-1 loss at Arsenal enraged many fans as the former Bayern Munich and Chelsea assistant manager refused to make positive, attacking changes.

Clement's defensive approach has been very much hit and miss this campaign, resulting in successful results against Southampton, Crystal Palace and Spurs, but the Swans still only sit narrowly above the drop zone on goal difference.

After delving deeper into the complete statistics, we discovered that Paul Clement's 35.71% league win record as Swansea manager actually makes him the second best Premier League manager in the club's history at the time of writing.

But who tops the list?

Well, no surprises for assuming who's in last place! That prize goes to American boss Bob Bradley, who managed a dismal 18.81% league win ratio in his reign of terror in 2016. He may have been given a weak hand and very little time, but performances and results were truly awful and it's still rather baffling how he got the job in the first place.

Ironically in the fifth place, the Europa League spot, is Michael Laudrup. The Dane made history by winning Swansea's first ever major trophy in 2013, battling for Capital One Cup glory and earning the Swans first venture into Europe in 22 years. Domestically however, Laudrup's record was somewhat underwhelming.

Laudrup's ninth place finish in 2012/13 actually only saw 11 league wins in total. Just five more than that Capital One Cup campaign! The distraction of trips to SpainRussia and Switzerland in the Europa League certainly didn't help his cause, but his accrued league win percentage stands at 27.41%.

In fourth spot is the man who brought the glory days back to Swansea. Brendan Rodgers led the Jack Army to their first top flight appearance since 1983, doing so with an easy-on-the-eye footballing style beloved by neutrals far and wide. That unique pass-based gameplan gained plenty of plaudits as the Swans earned a surprising 11th place finish - but how many games did Brendan win at the helm?

On the whole, Rodgers left with a superb 44.79% win ratio. In the Premier League, however, his total 12 wins from 38 earns him a disappointing percentage of 31.57%.

Marginally behind Paul Clement in second place is the man who began last season in charge - Francesco Guidolin. The experienced Italian was granted just seven games in the dugout before the hierarchy got rid last season, in spite of a hard-fought 12th place finish in the season previous.

It's a controversial decision to this day - Guidolin had seen far too many of his key players moved on in the transfer window and the Swans fans had a lot of time and respect for him. Nevertheless, it is what it is.

So here we are. Most fans will have already worked it out, but it's true. Swansea City's best Premier League permanent manager since 2011 is club legend Garry Monk!

His role in helping the Swans recover from a dreadful first half to the 2013/14 season was pivotal, restoring the positive vibes in the dressing room. In his only full season at the helm, Monk led the Swans to their highest Premier League finish of eighth, bringing in highly successful signings Lukasz Fabianski and Gylfi Sigurdsson that season.

Despite seeing positives from his signings of Bafetimbi Gomis and Andre Ayew, Monk was moved on in December 2015 with three wins from 15 league matches.

Nonetheless, Monk's complete combined league win record of 35.82% remains ever-so-slightly better than Clement's current record of 35.71%.

Monk's sacking was deemed harsh by many at the time - would sacking Clement get the same kind of response?

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Arsenal 2-1 Swans - Abject Swans cling on to 'positives'

For 30 minutes at least, Swans fans astonishingly began to believe that a near-impossible win at the Emirates was on the cards. As ever, that dream was shattered limply in the space of 10 minutes in the second half.

It could have all been so different. Should Jordan Ayew have squared the simplest of chances to Tammy Abraham when he dispossessed Per Mertesacker inside the Arsenal penalty area with minutes left until half-time, it really could've been game over.

Instead, we're left to hear the same old soundbites. Paul Clement claimed that 'a good performance is just around the corner' midweek, while citing plenty of improvements and positives after another failed good performance on Saturday.

Yes, the goal was a lovely move, Abraham's perfectly weighted pass was dispatched with calmness and precision from Sam Clucas - but where were the other positives?

Arsenal controlled the game, not just in terms of possession (of which they had 73%), but in terms of the flow and the chances. The first Arsenal goal was a tad lucky with the ball bobbling to Kolasinac rather fortunately, but the second goal was a complete and utter shambles. Ramsey was in acres of space, queuing up with other teammates inside the box, while Kolasinac had all the time in the world to pick the pass.

That second half Swans display was almost certainly one of the worst we've seen all season. The lack of changes, attacking intent and belief in the ranks at 2-1 was disturbing.

Clement said post-match: "It's always going to be a difficult test against an Arsenal side with so many quality offensive players - you have to be so focused for the whole game. I thought we deserved a point."

Words of a man clutching at straws with his job on the line, no doubt. And rightly so after another 90 minutes evidence of regression.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Arsenal v Swansea Preview (28/10/2017)

After last weekend’s result, Swansea City will look to put things right in their upcoming fixture against Arsenal. The 2-1 home loss to Leicester wasn’t what Paul Clement had in mind, and travelling to the Emirates Stadium will be no easy task.

Despite the recent loss, Swansea actually had 56% possession, meaning they had plenty of the ball throughout the game. The Swans had a number of chances, but didn’t prove to be clinical enough in the end.

Still on eight points, Swansea are hovering around the lower part of the Premier League as goal difference is the saviour of the side’s position. The total goals conceded so far isn’t actually too bad at 10, while goals scored has tallied just six. The lads need to be more clinical in front of goal if they are to claim vital points this season.

The key player for Swans thus far has been Tammy Abraham. The youngster currently has four league goals to his name and proves a threat up front. His lanky physique is a great asset to have on the pitch and, if utilised correctly, Swansea have that “go-to” player.

Although we are only nine games into the season, fans will feel a little edgy after the recent loss to Leicester and there is many reasons to be. The main thing on any Premier League fans’ mind would be the security of your own team in the Premier League. Thinking about not being in that bottom three is painful at times.

For now, Swansea shouldn’t need to worry. Despite playing away to Arsenal next, there are five teams currently below them. Plus, those other teams will have to play each other and some of the top sides in the Premier League yet.

Heading into the Arsenal fixture, Arsene Wenger’s side are still missing key players. Santi Cazorla is still out injured; as are Calum Chambers, Skhodran Mustafi and Danny Welbeck. None of these three players will be back for the Swansea game.

The Swans will have four players missing for the trip to the Emirates Stadium. Kyle Bartley of course is still injured. Martin Olsson suffered a hamstring injury and doesn’t have a return date set yet. Rentao Sanches is out until November with a thigh strain and Wilfried Bony has a hamstring problem which makes him a major doubt against Arsenal.

Paul Clement will be having a headache over wanting his strongest side possible but with key players missing he will have to make due. The key now is to focus on the game ahead and hopefully grab something against Arsenal.

The Gunners may have won 5-2 at Everton last time out but they ARE conceding goals. If Swansea head into the game with a positive attitude, they could shock Arsene Wenger’s side. We have already seen them lose a few times this season and there is no reason why the Welsh side can’t beat them this weekend. 

Up the Jack Army.

Loanee must continue firing on all cylinders for the Swans

Now we already know the highest scoring player for the Swans this season is Chelsea loanee, Tammy Abraham. The 20-year-old has looked keen in front of goal and definitely has potential to do great things. But can he score more than enough goals for the Swans this season?

With only six goals scored by Swansea so far, a player like Tammy Abraham is certainly needed. Standing at 6’3, the youngster can use his towering frame to an advantage when taking part in set pieces or jostling for the ball in the air.

Tammy Abraham, or “Kevin Oghenetega Tamaraebi Bakumo-Abraham” as he is known by his birth name, has really taken to a shine at Swansea since joining on loan. He impressed at Bristol City in the Championship last season by being the league’s second top goal scorer. His tally of 23 goals was only beaten by then, Leeds striker, Chris Wood with 27.

At such a young age, Abraham has much potential and a lot to learn even though he is seen as the main threat in Paul Clements’ side. The striker has also averaged a goal for every four shots taken. With a conversion rate of 25% you would bet on the England under-21 starlet to grab plenty more goals this season.

Come the end of the campaign, Tammy Abraham could be crucial in Swansea’s final league finish. With Arsenal being the next opponents, Paul Clement will hope the young forward can cause the Gunners’ defence all sorts of issues.

Arsenal haven’t looked all that great as they have conceded 12 goals already this season. That’s more than one goal per game. Even though they beat Everton 5-2 their defence does look a little shaky. If Abraham can nit-pick his way in the upcoming game there could be an upset on the cards.

When it comes down to attacking threats, Tammy Abaraham is seen as a reliable source. He proved it in the Championship last season and he is starting to prove it this year in the Premier League. Paul Clement does have faith in him and the more time he gets the more confident he will be.

Getting a goal this weekend would be something special for the youngster but even playing any part in a positive result against Arsenal will be gladly taken.  

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Swansea v Leicester Preview (21/10/2017)

After last weeks result the Swans should be in good spirits. Tammy Abraham's brace against Huddersfield secured the 2-0 home victory. Pushing Swansea into 13th place, they now look a little more comfortable.

The return of Ki Seung-Yeung was also a positive as the Korean was applauded as he stepped back onto the pitch for the first time this season. Even though Swansea won 2-0 they only had 40% possession. Showing that you don't need the ball all the time to be able to win the game.

Now on eight points, Swansea look to push on from where they are. Back to back wins would be welcomed and the next fixture is at home to a struggling Leicester side. With Craig Shakespeare shown the door, Michael Appleton has now taken the caretaker managerial role. The Foxes haven't won in their last three games and Swansea will want to take advantage.

Leicester have no new injuries but Robert Huth and Matty James are still out. For the Swans, Renato Sanches will be a slight doubt due to a thigh strain and also Wilfried Bony with a hamstring injury. Hopefully the duo can recover in time for the weekend. Kyle Bartley is the only other injury Swansea have. He won't be back until December.

So it looks like a good bit of news for Paul Clement as Sanches and Bony may be back available for selection. If they do recover in time, the boss will have plenty of options heading into the game at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

It will be more likely that the Swans boss will opt for the 4-3-1-2 formation that worked against Huddersfield last week. Depending on players possibly returning from injuries there could be a number of changes from last fixtures starting XI. However, Clement will not want to mess around with tactics too much as he will want to keep things pretty much the same if he wants to pick up another win.

Swansea have a good bit of momentum heading into this game with Leicester as the Foxes have drawn their last two games against West Brom and Bournemouth. This could be a perfect chance for Swansea to kick Leicester while they are down. Harsh it may seem but it's every team for themselves in the Premier League.

I'm going to go for a 2-1 Swans victory even though Leicester will be fighting. With that said, Swansea will be in a positive mood so they should find the flow of the game easier at home.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Swansea v Huddersfield Preview (14/10/2017)

Now the international break is over, we can all return our attention back to the Premier League. It hasn't been the best of starts for the lads as Swansea sit inside the relegation zone. With just five points from seven games played there is definitely much tweaking needed to be done.

Last outing's loss to West Ham shed a little more light on how tricky some fixtures can be despite Diafra Sakho getting the late winner. The deficits aren't even that bad it's just getting the results that is the problem at the moment. Paul Clement will obviously be speaking individually with each player on how he wants them to play this weekend against Huddersfield.

With a team like Huddersfield coming to town you would expect the Swans to at least get some sort of result. The Terriers started off their campaign fantastically with two wins against Crystal Palace and Newcastle. But since then, David Wagner's men haven't won a single match. They have only picked up three points from their last five matches and only one of them was away.

Looking at Huddersfield's records, this fixture should be a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of. But that is easier said than done. With the game being at the Liberty Stadium, there should be a home crowd urging the lads on in what is surely a winnable fixture.

If Swansea want to pick up points soon, now is the perfect time. There are no new injury problems and Ki Sung-Yeung will be a major doubt due to fitness but that is good news that we know he will be back soon. Obviously, Kyle Bartley is still out with his knee ligament injury. Ruling him out until the middle of November.

Huddersfield are expecting Colin Quaner and Steve Mounie to return from injuries but will still have a few players missing. Daniel Williams is expected to be out for another week with a fractured foot while Kasey Palmer and Michael Hefele won't be back until the middle of November. Jon Stankovic is also still out with an ACL knee injury sustained in March. He still has no return date set.

With the injury list Huddersfield have and this fixture being played at home, we should be looking at a Swansea side that can take advantage. If not there will be some serious questions asked. Huddersfield have shown their weakness lately and I think Swansea will edge them with a 1-0 victory at the Liberty Stadium this Saturday.