Monday 28 August 2017

Swans can build on Palace win

Swans midfielder Tom Carroll has proclaimed his satisfaction over the 2-0 over Crystal Palace at the weekend. The former Spurs trainee has proclaimed that the victory at Selhurst Park can provide his side with a 'springboard for further success'.

"We knew before kick-off that it was a big game," Carroll stated. "Then after the first-half, when we went in 1-0 up, we felt we had a big opportunity of taking the three points.

"When you look at things now, especially after our cup win in midweek, it’s been a good start to the season," he said.

Swansea looked very comfortable on Saturday afternoon, now earning four points from three considerably difficult Premier League fixtures. Carroll believes that the season has begun quite well, and all things considered, we wholeheartedly agree.

With several days still left to complete business, the Swans and Paul Clement must ensure they hold onto assets like Fernando Llorente and look to strengthen where possible. Moves for Santiago Arias, Nacer Chadli and Wilfried Bony have been touted, and those signings would boost key areas in the squad.

Carroll and I seemingly agree that it is vital that the Swans now build on the points they picked up at Southampton and Crystal Palace after the international break to avoid another relegation battle.

"We showed [today] what we can do. It was a positive result and I firmly believe we can push on from this now," he added.

Thursday 24 August 2017

Crystal Palace v Swans Preview (26/8/17)

Last Saturday? Nope, I don't remember anything of note happening. Absolutely nothing.

It's all about this Saturday. The Swans travel to lovely Croydon once again to face Crystal Palace. It's been a place of reasonable joy for the last few years for the Jack Army. Two wins out of four and just one loss with nothing on the line back in 2015.

Last season's two games against Palace saw 12 goals fired in - 7 of them from the Swans! The 5-4 epic under Bob Bradley was probably the most exhilarating game since the Premier League return, while the 2-1 smash and grab under Clement saw the absolute top boy Angel Rangel bag a late winner and create scenes in the away end.

Same again this season would go down a treat. Fernando Llorente came off the bench to terrorise Alan Pardew's lot at the Liberty last season and he could be back for the weekend. A potent lack of goal threat has been obvious in the first two games and, even though confidence is higher from midweek's EFL Cup cracker, the Spanish international would boost attacking credentials.

Kyle Bartley and Ki-Sung Yueng are missing for the Swans, though their significance is nothing compared to Palace missing influential winger Wilfried Zaha and centre back Jairo Riedewald. New £16.5m signing Sam Clucas could feature in the Swans side and his energy and workrate will breathe new life into a lifeless midfield. Roque Mesa looked pretty bright on his debut and should start again here, though he has a lot more to offer.

Palace have operated with three at the back under new boss Frank de Boer and haven't looked entirely comfortable, creating nothing against Liverpool and looking vulnerable in their loss to Huddersfield. Swans will likely revert to four at the back at the Selhurst Park.

Both sides have yet to score in the league this season, but the 15th place and 18th place sides will know that this is a huge opportunity here. Swans record against Palace bodes well, while Clement has had time to adapt and learn how to take points in crucial games - de Boer hasn't yet.

The backline will get flak for letting in three late goals against Man United (fine, we're accepting that it happened), but it was pretty tight before the subs were made and the capitulation took place. Swans have four wins out of the last six competitive matches and only conceded two in the five that weren't against Man United...

The 16/5 for the Jack Army to take the three points here is top when you consider Huddersfield's efforts here. A repeat of the 2-1 win from last season is 16/1 with Winner Sports - why not eh?

Monday 21 August 2017

Swansea target Sam Clucas close to Premier League switch

Hull City midfielder Sam Clucas is on the brink of signing for a Premier League club, his manager Leonid Slutsky confirmed.

Clucas asked to be left out of the Hull squad for their 2-1 Championship defeat to QPR on Saturday as he closes in on a return to the top-flight.

Swansea are believed to be one of the frontrunners for his signature, but reportedly face stiff competition from Burnley, who have had two bids rejected.

"Clucas is preparing to play for another club," Slutsky told reporters after his side's loss to QPR. "I think a deal has been agreed.

"It was his decision not to play, but in the next days, I think a deal will be announced. It is a Premier League club. I think it is a decision made all together but it was his as well."

Swans manager Paul Clement is understood to have funds available to him, especially following the £40m gained from Gylfi Sigurdsson's departure to Everton, and admitted that he needs to add quality to his squad in order to avoid a relegation scrap. 

"The moment Gylfi's going you know you need to do that. Without him, [Fernando] Llorente and Ki [Sung-yueng], when they're out, we are weaker," he said.

"We still have a good squad, but we absolutely need more quality players to come in so we have a chance of being competitive this year.

"The situation is very fluid at the moments: texts, emails and telephone calls are going back and forth between various parties. We hope by the deadline - and someone asked me would it be before Crystal Palace [on 26 August] - but as soon as we can do it the better.

Sunday 20 August 2017

Paul Clement drawing positives despite being swept away by ruthless United

Swansea City manager Paul Clement insists that the scoreline did not fully reflect the story as he watched his side go down 4-0 to Manchester United.

A late blitz of goals from United made the game look thoroughly one-sided, but for long stretches, while the score was still 1-0, Swansea conducted themselves admirably.

“We were competitive for long periods of the game – right up until the second goal,” Clement said.“The difference between the sides for a long time was a set-play. Although we had to defend more than they did, I thought our shape was good and we didn’t let them have any real clear-cut chances.

“We are disappointed about the way we defended the set-play. We have a really good record defending set-plays – we only conceded one after I came in last season – so to concede in that fashion was disappointing.

“But there were enough good things in the first half for me to say at half-time that we were still very much in the game and must not let our confidence get affected.

“That was the case right up until the second goal.

“Whereas last week at Southampton I was more disappointed with the performance than the result, today I am more disappointed with the result rather than some of the things we did.

“I think the supporters felt that way too. I think they were happy with some of the things they saw up until the second goal.”

However, Clement admitted that his side could have done more to prevent their late capitulation as United ran away with it thanks to a quick-fire triple from Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial.

I don’t want to be a coach who is happy losing 1-0, so I made some offensive changes,” Clement added.

“But the second goal we gave them was a gift. We missed a couple of tackles in midfield and then we were out of position at the back and they punished us.

“The third goal was a loose pass. They are so strong on the counter and they showed it again.

“The first goal is always important in this league. Jose (Mourinho) has shown over the years that when his team go 1-0 up, they manage games so well.

“They know the other team will have to come out and in the end they punished us.”

Saturday 19 August 2017

Paul Clement admits Swansea need quality after United defeat

Swansea City manager Paul Clement was under no illusion following his side's 4-0 defeat to Manchester United, admitting that the club 'absolutely need to sign quality players.'

A late flurry of United goals heaped the misery on the Welsh club at the end of a week which has seen them one of their finest-ever players, Gylfi Sigurdsson, depart for Everton.

Without the Icelandic playmaker's craft and guile, Swansea struggled to create. They are also still missing last season's top-scorer Fernando Llorente, who is still injured, and Clement admitted that he needs to sign players.

“We absolutely need more quality players to come in, so we have a chance of being competitive this year,” Clement said.

“The sooner we can do it the better. It could go later in the window but the necessity is there. It’s clear.

“We were competitive for long periods of the game. Up until the second goal the difference was a set-play and generally, the shape was good.

“I made some offensive changes because I don’t want to be a coach happy to lose 1-0 at home, but we ended up playing to their strengths and they punished us.”

“Today I’m more disappointed with the result than some of things I’ve seen. I was happy with some of the things defensively, not so happy offensively.

“We went a goal down and tried to do something about it but we got punished and it’s hard to take.”

Next up for Swansea is an EFL Cup tie against MK Dons before travelling to Selhurst Park next week to face Crystal Palace, who have opened their season with two straight defeats. 

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Swansea braced for disappointment as Stoke refuse to sell Joe Allen

Swansea's pursuit of Joe Allen may be an exercise in futility with Stoke City refusing to entertain offers for the Wales midfielder.

According to Sky Sports, Stoke have directly informed Allen's former club that he will remain with the Potters beyond this window, indicating that the player himself is happy and settled in Mark Hughes' first-team.

Allen helped establish Swansea as a Premier League side before scoring a lucrative move to Liverpool. He spent four years at Anfield before joining Stoke last summer, going on to have one of the finest seasons of his career.

Stoke boss Hughes had appeared to pour cold water over any potential deal, too, saying that Allen is simply not for sale.

"My understanding is there was a tentative inquiry and that was it.

"We rebuffed that, didn't give it any encouragement whatsoever, and that's where we are with that one, not for sale."

Paul Clement admits Swansea's transfer business may cut it fine on deadline day

Swansea City manager admits that the club's quest to complete their recruitment for the new season may bring them right to transfer deadline day.

Clement watched his side draw 0-0 with Southampton on Saturday but knows that bolstering his squad is absolutely imperative if they are to steer clear of the relegation zone. The expected departure of Gylfi Sigurdsson, their most influential attacking player, has placed further emphasis on the need for new signings.

The manager will have funds at his disposal with which he is expected to make moves for Wilfried Bony – the former Swansea striker who is deemed surplus to requirements at Manchester City – West Brom's Nacer Chadli and Joe Allen of Stoke City.

However, Clement – in a subtle warning to fans expecting announcements this week – has implied that it may be a struggle to conduct all desired deals before the deadline.

“For me, I want players in as soon as possible but the reality is it could go to the last day in terms of ‘ins’,” he said.

But we want the time to be able to do the negotiating, and if it is on the last day it is hard to do it or you pay way over the amount, and we don’t want to do that either.

“We’ve identified targets, but you don’t know if you can get the first choice on your list.”

Clement also expressed his wish for the transfer window to shut before the season starts as to not unsettle players such as Diego Costa, Virgil van Dijk and Philippe Coutinho whereby they are not available for selection.

“It is frustrating here and I am sure Southampton and Liverpool are frustrated too. That’s why the window needs to close before the season starts so you can get on with football,” he said.

“Our club would support that decision. In our managers’ meeting at the Premier League last week we spoke about it, it was discussed and I think the majority of clubs are in favour of it.

“I think we all have to be in favour of it for it to go through."

Swans v Man United Preview (19/8/17)

Considering last season's early loss at St Marys, we can only think of last weekend's stalemate at Southampton as a positive.

Yes it was dull, yes we failed to register a single shot on target and yes we sat back for a point - but we got that point. It's hard to imagine many teams will leave the south coast with anything more than a beating, so let's keep our heads high.

It's very much a case of onto the next one now. Unfortunately, the next one is one of the toughest around in Manchester United. The Reds are flying high after their 4-0 smashing of West Ham on Sunday and £75m striker Romelu Lukaku appears absolutely lethal.

This same fixture last year prompted a chorus of boo's from the Liberty as Bob Bradley led the Swans to a limp 3-1 home loss. Pogba and Ibrahimovic's goals had finished us off within half an hour and we sat delicately poised in 19th spot on just FIVE points - joint with Sunderland!

Realistically, that should remind us just how poor the situation was before Paul Clement arrived. With Clement in charge here, things will surely be different.

This IS a Man United squad who are stronger than they were this time last year, but it's also a Swansea squad rejuvenated. The likes of Van der Hoorn, Barrow and Borja won't be seen, while Olsson, Abraham and Ayew will give offer much more quality.

The setup will likely be the same as the trip to Southampton. Routledge and Ayew on the flanks, Abraham leading the line, three in the middle. With a feisty, energetic United midfield of Pogba, Matic and possibly Herrera, Roque Mesa could be introduced for Leon Britton, with Tom Carroll holding and Leroy Fer playing ever-so-slightly further forward.

This current back four has let in just one goal in their last four league games and must continue to shine against a scary Man United forward line. Given our strength rests mostly in our defensive ability and structure and the fact that Gylfi Sigurdsson, Ki Sung-yueng and Nathan Dyer will all definitely be missing, it's hard to envision a crazy game full of goals. With Fernando Llorente also probable to miss out, it's hard to imagine any Swans goals at all.

The focus will be on keeping things tight and not getting beat - in doing that, you create a couple of chances yourself and possibly take the game. Keep this United side quiet and we've had a good day. We'd be happy with a 0-0 at 12/1 with Paddy Power, but a 1-1 seems more realistic at 9/1 with William Hill. The draw is 10/3 with Sky Bet, while a Swans win (dare we dream?) is 9/1 with Paddy Power.

Tuesday 15 August 2017

Swansea City sign former Coventry youngster Courtney Baker-Richardson

Swansea City have confirmed the signing of Courtney Baker-Richardson from non-league side Leamington FC.

The former Coventry City academy product will link up with the club's U23 side on a two-year contract after impressing in the National League North last season, where he scored 21 goals.

The 21-year-old started his career with the Sky Blues but only made two first-team appearances before moving on. He also had spells with Tamworth, Nuneaton and Redditch.

“It still has not sunk in,” said Baker-Richardson.

“The welcome I have had has been superb and I feel this is a move that can benefit my career and help me push me on. I am very excited to get started.

“I have had to take a few knock backs in my career, but whenever people tell me I am not good enough, it only motivates me to prove them wrong.

"I had a good 18 months at Leamington and I feel I can deliver at this level.

“I watched the game on Friday (against Liverpool U23s) and thought we were unfortunate to lose 2-0.

“I am looking forward to getting started.”

Monday 14 August 2017

West Brom boss Tony Pulis not ruling out Chadli to Swansea

West Brom manager Tony Pulis has confirmed that the club is willing to listen to offers for winger Nacer Chadli, with Swansea believed to be one of the interested parties.

The Belgium international, who joined the Baggies from Tottenham Hotspur last summer in a club record £13million deal, is a key target for Swans boss Paul Clement, who is actively pursuing targets in preparation for Gylfi Sigurdsson's expected departure to Everton.

Clement admires Chadli's pace and creativity and believes he would be a strong addition at the Liberty Stadium as he can be played in the centre or out wide.

"It's been publicised that Swansea are interested in Nacer – if they are, we'll deal with Swansea," Pulis told the Birmingham Mail.

"At the moment Nacer is with us and I hope he stays with us."

 Chadli was left on the bench for West Brom's 1-0 win over Bournemouth on Saturday after reportedly falling out with Pulis during pre-season. However, the Baggies boss poured cold water over any suggestion of discord.

"You have your ups and downs like every family, but Nacer has trained hard this week and he's worked well," Pulis said.