Friday, 17 April 2015

Records are there to be smashed, not just broken

After last Saturday's draw, which equalled the club's Premier League points record, where are the Swans sights set for the rest of the season? Forza Swansea guest writer CHRIS JOBLING takes a look at the ambitions of the club now that there's nothing left to achieve.

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by Chris Jobling

With last week's 1-1 draw with Everton enough to see Swansea equal their best points return in a Premier League season, it is now a question of when, rather than if, a new benchmark is set.

It's a mark of the club’s consistency since stepping into the top flight that their annual league return over the last three seasons has been split by just seven points. They may have been edging in the wrong direction – 47, 46, 42 – but there have been mitigating circumstances.

From being a relatively unknown quantity under Brendan Rodgers, to toasting major silverware and having to juggle the demands of domestic and continental competition under Michael Laudrup – who was ushered through the exits to welcome in another new dawn.

Being free of Europa League commitments has undoubtedly aided the club this season and got them moving in the right direction again.

Club legend Garry Monk has shown himself to be a more than capable boss, with the right mix of passion and Swans philosophy allowing him to drive things forward without infringing upon the efforts of his predecessors.

Standing on 47 points is some achievement, given that there are still 18 left to play for. Monk will, unquestionably, write a new chapter in the club’s history, but sights need to be set much higher than that.

With plenty of winnable fixtures to come, at least on paper, breaking records should not be the acceptable standard – smashing them should be.

Given that four of Swansea's remaining six games will be away from the Liberty Stadium – with tricky trips to Arsenal and Crystal Palace among them – it's not going to be easy to finish with a flourish.

There are, however, holes to be picked in the credentials of just about all of their upcoming opponents: Leicester City are scrapping for their Premier League lives, but are down there for a reason, while Newcastle United are – yet again – a side in disarray. There is little advantage to be taken from playing in front of a disgruntled St James’ Park fan base at present.

Arsenal will be a stiff test on a Monday night at the Emirates, but out-of-sorts Manchester City are unlikely to be relishing a trip to South Wales, while Stoke City and Crystal Palace have little left to play for.

There is no reason why a double-figure haul should not be targeted heading down the final straight, with the Swans pushing towards the 60-point mark.

Ambitious? Yes, but that would put down a serious marker for others to follow in the future and help to set the bar at a level an ambitious outfit are now expecting, rather than hoping, to reach.

It is also looking increasingly likely that a new record points total will deliver a club-high finish among the elite, with consolidation in eighth enough to edge them above the class of 2012/13.

Why stop there though? Spurs are hardly pulling up trees at the moment and, while a seven-point deficit is a big gap to bridge at this late stage, Premier League betting suggests that they are there to be shot at after slipping into reverse.

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