After last weekend's iffy showing against Hull City; Paul Clement will no doubt have told the squad to buckle down and play to win, no matter what. The side looked as though there was too much consideration for the backline rather than pressing forwards and it proved to be Swansea's downfall against Hull - we can't afford this against Bournemouth.
With so many teams around us holding a game in hand advantage; we cannot afford to leave the Vitality Stadium with anything less than three points. Hull are easily the biggest threat to our position of safety but Middlesbrough have a game in hand to upset even the Tiger's party - it's all very complicated at present and the fixture list needs addressing urgently.
Focusing on the game in question; we are set to be without Kyle Naughton unless he passes a very late fitness test to secure his involvement in the game - his influence will be missed should he fail to regain full fitness. Perhaps worse than Naughton's potential absence; Fernando Llorente has been struggling with a dead leg he picked up in training and must shake it off before the game if Clement is to field his preferred line up.
I honestly don't know what went wrong last weekend but I do know that we cannot allow it to happen again. A win could take us above Leicester City where defeat could see us too close to the relegation places for comfort - it all depends on which version of our side turns up!
If it's the free flowing, attacking side that showed the rest of the league we are here to fight then we'll have no problems against Bournemouth. However, if we set up defensively and start to confuse one another again then it will be a long, long trip home from the English South coast.
Either way; I'm looking forward to this game more than most this season as I genuinely can't pick between the sides. Obviously my favour is towards Swansea but it's such a close run thing that I won't be betting on the game - that's for certain.
My hope is 2-0 Swansea but my head is suggesting Bournemouth will at least breach our backline.
Friday, 10 March 2017
If now isn’t the time to press on up the table, then I don’t know if there ever will be a time. Seeing Paul Clement running the entire area of the pitch last weekend has easily become my favourite moment of the season so far – it’s about time we had a manager who wears his heart on sleeve and shows the same passion for victory as the fans!
It was a tense affair last weekend against Burnley but from the moment Olsson levelled the game there was a real feeling that we could win the game around the Liberty – thankfully – Fernando Llorente pulled it off yet again but I didn’t have any nails left by the time he headed in the winner! A bit earlier next time Nando!?
Then again, early goals have proven to be an issue for us earlier in the season as we still struggle to keep clean sheets. That’s nothing against Fabianski nor the back four; we are in the Premier League and there are no easy games! Only Leicester have failed to breach us in the last six league games; winning games is vital but we must stop making it hard for ourselves.
Hull are in the midst of a sticky patch where injuries are concerned as Davies, Mbokani and Evandro look set to miss out. The latter might pass a fitness test but the Tigers are somewhat toothless since they allowed Robert Snodgrass to leave the club in favour of West Ham – great news for us!
Dyer is set to be absent for the Swans once again as he continues his injury struggles; we wish him a speedy recovery but Montero and Ki are both available for selection – will Clement change the winning formula to accommodate the pace and fearlessness of the duo?
Given our clean sheet issues; we will no doubt find ourselves breached at the back but we look imperious moving forwards. The space the midfield are finding to play the ball between themselves is exceptional and strings are being pulled up top to offer avenues towards goal – I can wholly see us outscoring Hull in this one rather than romping to victory.
If you’re a betting character; I’d be backing both teams to score and Swansea to win this one – we need the points to get away from the relegation zone, despite a five point cushion, and Hull are on a rotten run of form.
We’ve got this in the bag, I hope!
Saturday, 4 March 2017
So how do we all feel about the idea of taking an enormous step away from the issues that are plaguing the clubs around us? Three points at home against Burnley will no doubt see us above Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth and beyond the struggling Leicester City – we’re well on the way to safety and it could be a path less travelled looking at the competition.
The last time it was so close at the bottom at this time in the season; allegations were thrown at Sir Alex Ferguson for fielding a weakened side to allow Hull City their Premier League survival. However; things might not be so crass this season as it becomes ever more apparent that Sunderland and Hull have run their course in the top flight so only one place is up for grabs in the drop zone – realistically.
Thankfully, that has nothing to do with us and Sean Dyche’s Burnley turning up on our doorstep is a welcome reminder that we’re off the pace in the Premier League. Winning at Leicester, Liverpool and at home to Southampton proves very little – beating opponents we ought to overtake before the end of the season is a very different.
Annoyingly, Jefferson Montero is back in training but is very, VERY unlikely to feature as the lack of pace in the squad continues overall. Narsingh and Ayew are set to start but at the expense of whom? Wayne Routledge is a key candidate for the chop despite his acceptable performances.
The most likely outcome, according to the BBC, is 1-1 but I can’t see it going to a draw – especially not a low scoring draw. I’ve a feeling that Jeff Stelling will be asking for updates from the Liberty all afternoon – high scoring draw or big scoring victory for the home side.
Burnley lost at Turf Moor in August and are seven points ahead of us – this all means utterly nothing as we’ve lost two managers; bought and sold in January and resurrected our season since then. We’re on for a win here and a decent win at that – I can’t wait for Dyche’s excuses in that 20 a day Marlboro voice.
Friday, 24 February 2017
It’s getting to that time of the season where the first teamers find out if they are to be offered a new deal at the club or if they still have work to do to impress the hierarchy. With January’s transfer window long shut; players are having to stay put whether they want to or not but who should get a new deal with the Swans?
Big Fed might not have been my first choice for a new deal given our defensive issues under Bradders and Guidolin but Paul Clement seems to be a big fan of the Argentine. So much a fan, that Fernandez has signed a new deal today that will keep him at the club until 2020 and up until he is 31 years old – what happens then remains to be seen.
He might not be the super star striker we all believed he would be when he rocked up at the Liberty but he has found his shooting boots and looks comfortable in the team at last. The rumoured interest from Chelsea in January will no doubt force the club’s hand into offering Llorente a new deal that features a fairly large buy-out clause along with a wage increase that would see him level with the team’s top earners: Britts and Gylfi.
I don’t care if he’s only just signed his three and a half year deal; this lad needs tying down for five years at least. At 24 Carroll has yet to peak in the traditional sense but he has played a lot of football for a young lad and most of it has been outside of the Premier League. His work ethic is beyond any player I’ve seen in a Swans shirt since Ashley Williams first pulled his jersey on.
We might’ve lost Williams but we cannot lose Carroll if his early performances are anything to go by – an early extension is essential.
Easily a future Swansea City captain, Mawson hasn’t had the easiest career of all our first teamers. A lot of wasted time on loan and a short spell at Barnsley has led him to us and he’s going to be a mainstay in the team for some time.
He is growing in confidence with every game he plays and there’s shades of brilliance in his play – one year into a four year deal will no doubt see an improved contract come the summer to ward off interest from other clubs.
An odd choice, some might say, but Clement is the future of the club. I have heard rumours that Clement was brought in as a short term option initially given his lack of formal managing experience but we may as well give him a lengthy deal now – it might stop the board from swinging the axe if a run of poor results comes our way; stability is needed.
Apologies for the lack of activity folks but it won’t have escaped anyone’s attention that we’ve had the better part of 12 days off for training whilst the rest of the league has been messing around with the FA Cup and what-not – but we’re back and what a game to come back to: a trip to Stamford Bridge!
I’m not sure I need to point out that Chelsea are currently top of the Premier League and will be looking to tighten their grip on top spot at our expense on Saturday afternoon. However, I firmly believe we can cause them some serious problems courtesy of Paul Clement’s intelligent football styling the lads displayed against Leicester last time out.
Okay; I know there’s a major difference between the now managerless Leicester City and Conte’s Chelsea but we still romped to victory over the Premier League champions without giving them so much as a real chance on goal.
We also need to consider that Paul Clement is a former Chelsea assistant manager and we’re showing signs of that top level experience – I’d be concerned if I were Antonio Conte; especially given their iffy draw against Burnley in their last Premier League game!
Sadly, we’ll be heading for Stamford Bridge without Nathan Dyer (Achilles), Jefferson Montero (hamstring) and Ki Sung-Yeung (knee) which is a damn shame quite frankly. The pace of Dyer and fearlessness of Ki would’ve added another dimension to our play against Chelsea but there’s always a plan B.
Britts is back after injury and Luciano Narsingh and Jordan Ayew are both pushing to start the game against the league leaders. I’m eager to see what Ayew can bring from the start of a game and Narsingh could be ideal cover for Dyer – I just hope his delivery is on point because we’ll stand more chance in the air than we do on the deck.
Sideshow Bob lookalike, David Luiz, and Marcos Alonso are likely to start at the back for Chelsea meaning playing through their backline is unlikely to happen as both are competent ball playing defenders but Luiz in particular often gets caught out in the air as ref’s are wise to his nasty streak – Llorente could profit massively from his hesitance to get embroiled in midair scuffles.
I’m not saying we’ll romp to victory; that’s a bit much to ask if I’m honest but Chelsea look a side who are set to allow complacency into their game. A few passes falling short and the likes of Narsingh and Carroll can nick the ball away and expose the gaps in their three man defensive line.
Paul Clement needs to get it into the player’s heads that it’s just another game and they are no better than us – they just cost more and get paid ludicrous sums to do exactly what we do; play to win every game.
Saturday, 11 February 2017
Jordan Ayew could make his Swans debut against Leicester on Sunday but what exactly attracted Paul Clement and the club to the former Villa striker? What can he bring to the squad that wasn’t already available? Is there something special about the Ghanaian that we haven’t noticed? What is it that forced the club’s hand?
Ayew was born in France but is of Ghanaian descent making him eligible for the Ghana national side who he has recently represented up to the Semi Final stage of the Africa Cup of Nations – hence his delayed debut for the Swans. Starting his career at Marseille, Ayew was transferred to FC Lorient as he found his first team chances limited at Marseille – this is where he attracted some major attention.
Aston Villa made a move for Ayew just 12 months after he signed for Lorient paying £10.2 million for him – they were confident he’d be exactly what they needed to stay in the Premier League. Sadly, they were wrong but they deployed him in such a way that any striker would’ve struggled. Isolated up front, Ayew found it hard to hit the back of the net and Villa went down.
Now, Ayew has signed for Swansea (for an undisclosed fee and Neil Taylor going in the opposite direction) and it makes him the second Ayew to play for us. Andre Ayew has, of course, departed the club in a £20 million move to West Ham that laced our pockets and shifted on the more tempestuous Ayew sibling.
Jordan Ayew is without doubt a talented striker. He has good technique, plenty of pace but he does rely on the ball coming to his feet a lot of the time. If anything, Ayew reminds me of former Man Utd striker Javier Hernandez – very underrated, makes a lot of great runs and is always on hand to pick up a loose ball. Hopefully he can have a similar impact to the Mexican in the Premier League.
The big question is what he’s going to bring to the squad quite frankly. We’re starting to find the back of the net more regularly, we look more resolute at the back so where can Ayew help? There’s nothing more useful in a team than a player who can change the way the game is being played – Ayew adds more pace to the front line that has been lacking somewhat with the reliance on the classy Llorente and absence of Ki.
When a player of Ayew’s quality becomes available; Premier League clubs can’t ignore it and let him slip away to a rival – Paul Clement has clearly been aware of Ayew for some time and letting Taylor go after nearly seven years with Swansea is a big decision.
The most irritating thing about Ayew’s transfer is definitely the number he has been given. Despite being an out and out striker, Ayew has been handed the number 3 shirt usually reserved for the left full back – absolute madness.
I’m expecting big things from Ayew and I think it’s safe to say the club are too – fingers crossed he can smash one in against Leicester on his debut.
Ties don’t get much more important for Swansea right now: Leicester City at home with both sides level on points and skirting dangerously close to the relegation zone – this is what Super Sundays were made for!
Three points will be enough for the Swans to at least leapfrog Leicester but it might also see us move above lacklustre Middlesbrough. Manager of the month Paul Clement has told the press he wants the team to make the home field advantage count – Leicester’s pitch is substantially wider than at the Liberty thanks to their Champion’s League endeavours this year.
Ideally, we can limit Leicester’s wide play to nullify the threat of Riyad Mahrez and Christian Fuchs from full back. It may not seem like much, but a pitch that’s a few yards narrower than a club is accustomed to can make it incredibly difficult to play their normal game – great news for us.
The news that seems to have kept Swansea in the print media this week comes courtesy of Jordan Ayew. The Ghana international agreed his deal on Deadline Day and is back from the Africa Cup of Nations ready to make his Swans debut. Ayew might not have made headlines for Aston Villa but I can see him turning a trick for us; we play his preferred game: keep the ball on the deck, pass and move.
Leicester are also off the back of the only FA Cup Fourth Round replay against Derby. The Foxes won the game in extra time but several first team players were included in the squad – three days rest might not be enough for them to fully recover and Ranieri will need to rotate once again.
It looks as though Ki, Montero and Britton will be absent for Swansea with a knee, hamstring and calf issue respectively. This isn’t too much of a concern thanks to Carroll’s emergence as a key player and Llorente remembering his shooting boots – we can field a side to worry Leicester here.
Schmeichel, Huth, Morgan, Drinkwater, Mahrez and Vardy are all expected to earn recalls to the team after the FA Cup tie and Demarai Gray is pushing hard for a starting place. Slimani and Ulloa are out with injury but Molla Wague could be involved after missing the Derby game for a ridiculous reason.
Apparently, and I didn’t know this, if a player signs after a domestic cup match is drawn and a replay is incurred – they cannot play in the replay as they weren’t available for the original game. Sounds daft to me but the FA do as they please I suppose.
Annoyingly, Mahrez netted a hat trick against us in this fixture last season so it’ll be down to Olsson to keep the Algerian as quiet as possible. I don’t care if he doesn’t go near another player; his threat needs to be quashed.
We can win this game, that’s painfully obvious, but I’m going to be conservative and back Swansea to win 2-1. I’ve just got a feeling about a late winner and can wholly see Ayew netting it on his debut.