Showing posts sorted by relevance for query James. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query James. Sort by date Show all posts

Friday, 31 August 2012

Swansea City vs Sunderland: The first real test

This blog post was originally one long unmanageable mess of transfer news and a preview of Saturday's match vs Sunderland. However, I saw sense and spilt them in two! The transfers round-up will be along later today.

-------------

Second Season Syndrome they all cried! They were wrong.

Okay, maybe I'm getting ahead of myself. We're only two games in. Still, Swansea City have smashed the first two Premier League games, while comfortably moving into round three of the Capital One Cup mid-week. So far, so good.

However, despite two awesome performances, the quality of Swansea's opponents so far has been on the poor side. Sunderland will certainly pose much more of a threat than QPR and West Ham combined and Swansea can't assume a victory, even though confidence is high.

Last season when the two met they played out a 0-0 draw at the Liberty Stadium before Sunderland took all three points at the Stadium of Light - this was despite Swansea predictably racking up the possession stats and taking more shots on goal. This season we know things like possession stats are just a bonus and mean little unless goals are scored.

Laudrup, we hope, will opt for pretty much the same team that's done the job so far - why change a winning formula?

Though Pablo Hernandez has sealed a place with the club, he won't be in the squad for Saturday. This is good news I think - I'm all for giving players a little time to settle in before releasing them onto the field. The only change will probably come in the centre, where Ki Sung-Yueng should slot in instead of Jonathan de Guzman. Sung-Yueng can take a decent free kick and enjoys sitting back a little, which should compliment Michu and Britton.

So the team you'll probably see Saturday:

Vorm, 
Rangel, Williams, Flores, Taylor 
Dyer, Britton, Sung-Yueng, Michu, Routledge 
Graham 

Meanwhile, Sunderland should be pretty well rested, having only played one game (a credible 0-0 vs Arsenal) after their second was postponed due to rain. They have a strong squad, with a shrewd manager in Martin O'Neill and top class players including a few new faces that should pose some threat to Ashley Williams and co, such as Louis Saha, Steven Fletcher and, fresh from Man City, Adam Johnson.
It's pointless me pretending I know a lot about Sunderland because... I don't. Thankfully I've been in contact with someone who does: top Sunderland writer Dan Williams from The Roker Report, who has given us his thoughts ahead of the match:

There is a renewed sense of optimism around Sunderland as a club, thanks to Martin O'Neill's hard work in the transfer window. The manager made no secret of the fact that Steven Fletcher was his number one target, and after a long and drawn-out saga, finally got his man, picking up Louis Saha on a free transfer too for good measure. However, it is the signing of Adam Johnson that has Black Cats fans purring, as the Manchester City man shows a real statement of intent from the club, something that we have been crying out for since Darren Bent ran off to Birmingham, and Asamoah Gyan went chasing pound coins in the far East.

Although the weather put paid to our second game of the season, we look strong defensively at the Emirates, and sharp in front of goal against Morecambe in the League Cup on Tuesday night. Simon Mignolet will return in goal, having missed that game, while Carlos Cuellar will return to the middle of the back four alongside John O'Shea, with Jack Colback on the left, and Craig Gardner on the right. Lee Cattermole and Seb Larsson should provide the hold in midfield, for a three-pronged attack behind Fletcher of James McClean, Stephane Sessegnon and Adam Johnson.

Swansea have started the season on fire, but this will arguably be Laudrup's biggest test to date, and I fancy us to go in front. Although my colleagues at Roker Report might not agree, I'm going to plump for a 1-1 draw.

Confidence with caution there from Dan!

Though Sunderland are a bigger team (both physically and in footballing terms) and took three points last time, things will be different this week. Swansea have changed; they now have a few more players up for a scrap and are playing with such confidence it's hard to imagine anything other than a win. They'll also have the edge with the Liberty Stadium as their theatre. It also bodes well that Sunderland have not won in their previous nine away matches.

The bookies (usually in the know) have Swansea as favourites at around 11/10. While Dan predicts 1-1 (odds of around 5/1), I'm more confident of a Swans win. I do see Vorm letting one slip though, but with Swansea's momentum I'm saying 2-1 to the boys in white (around 8/1). A bet on Michu to score two goals or more is 11/1 and also well worth a pound or two!

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.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

The Only Way From Here Is Down

How high can we go? That's the question everyone is asking now that Swansea City have broken the 50 point mark in the Premier League. However, former Swans player and football agent ALEC JOHNSON explains why the ambitions of Swans fans should now actually turn away from the top of the table...


---

By Alec Johnson

Ignore the negative title - readers of my previous Forza Swansea blogs and those that engage with me on Twitter understand that in over 10k tweets to date you would struggle to find a single negative message.

However, looking at our perennial and lofty position suggests small steps of progress since our arrival in the Premier League, and a realistic acceptance that this is as far as it goes for us.

It's certainly not the end of the road, but the vision and ambition must now switch to consolidation and cup runs, not attacking the big fellas occupying the spaces above us. Rolling that dice is the recipe for Portsmouth, or even our nasty neighbours.

While it's a privilege going into the final matches without any pressure, there is a feeling of complacency in the club - not on the pitch but among so many fans.

Last weekend we won at St James Park. No, this wasn't against Exeter in the bottom division, but the Premier League version and so called 'Giant of the North', Newcastle. Yet so many fans were moaning like a bad mother in law. Our gang of international heavyweights were getting slaughtered by the East Stand's loonie brigade.


Cups: Where Swansea's ambitions should lie in the relatively near future

Back in the real world, a recent report showed that in our past 100 seasons we average a league finish in the mid thirties out of the 92 clubs. I was surprised that it was that high after our past fifty years which realigns our place at an ugly 57th - that's League One as we know it.

Also currently looking at the seven clubs above us, only 11 seasons in that period has one of them not won the league, so we're in great company up there.

Yet some still aren't satisfied.

The ambition within the club remains in tact, capable of satisfying a modern day Caesar; adjusting the goals year on year to recruit better players, attract more commercial partners, build the Swans brand globally and invest in the club infrastructure.

All of this will secure our status as the stable and efficient top half club in the Premier League, slowly helping us to lose the 'over achievers' tag often bolted onto our brand. We can expect exciting news through the close season relating to more lucrative deals for pre-season tours, merchandise, expansion and commercial partnerships.

It's an advantage that our board sees no limit to the possibilities and won't settle for mid table in any facet of the Premier League. Collectively they don't accept the realism of our position and that ambition has no bounds.

So, given the fifty points racked up this season with two winnable and two dodgy games left, a mid fifties total is on the cards. That exceeds my optimistic pre-season forecast of 49 by some so it's difficult to see how much further we can go than what we've achieved this season, perhaps other than adding a big fat FA Cup title to our cabinet.

This record breaking season deserves some real fanfare to sign it off as it may not get better than this. The only way is down; but please resist from singing 'the Jacks are staying up'! That pain relieving song is unwelcome in these parts, despite many predicting that we would be singing it for the past four seasons.

The Jacks are here to stay.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Swans join race for Portuguese ace Lameiras

Since the sale of Gylfi SigurĂ°sson to Everton in August 2017, for a club record fee of £40 million, Swansea have failed to replace the attacking prowess offered by the Iceland international who scored 27 goals in 106 games for the Swans after joining on a permanent transfer. 


The following season the Swans added Portuguese midfielder Renato Sanches to the ranks in an attempt to fill the void; a player who starred in Portugal’s shock Euro 2016 win. This move didn’t work out however and the Swans were subsequently relegated to the Championship for the 2018/19 season in which they never really set the world alight, finishing in 10th place. 
With the recent transfer of Daniel James to Manchester United for a fee rumoured to be around £18 million, Swansea are in desperate need of an attacking outlet as they aim to improve on last season’s mid- table finish.
One player strongly rumoured to be heading to Wales is Lameiras, who is out of contract at Plymouth Argyle and is set to leave the Devon club after the Pilgrims suffered a disappointing season- being relegated back to League 2 after promotion in 2016/17.
Lameiras was a fan favourite a Home Park and the Swans are reportedly interested in bringing the tricky winger in on a free transfer to the Liberty, although Ligue 1 club Bordeaux are also said to be interested in the Portuguese wide man.
Lameiras was a rare highlight in a drab season for the Pilgrims, scoring 12 goals and providing nine assists in 45 games in all competitions; he was also named the club’s Player of the Year. His impressive performances in League 1 last season drew attention from many top club scouts so it could be a big coup for the Swans.
Before transferring to Argyle in 2017, Lameiras was a Coventry City player after being released from Spurs. He spent two seasons with the Sky Blues where he enjoyed success-including an EFL Trophy win at Wembley in 2016-17- but he moved to Home Park after Coventry were relegated to the fourth tier in 2017.
Lameiras is a tricky winger who would provide pace and skill going forward and create chances. At 24 years old he has many years still ahead of him to improve and flourish. Lameiras is also a versatile player who has played across the midfield throughout his career. The Lisbon- born forward excels in the number 10 role, with his agility and pace, and could provide a good attacking option for the Swans for the upcoming 2019/20 Championship season.
With Steve Cooper set to be announced as new Swans boss, Lameiras’s quick feet and pace make him an ideal fit for the Swansea style of play the club want to revert to.
However, can the Portuguese adapt to the added pace and quality off the Championship compared to League 1 if he does enter the Liberty as the Swans first summer signing?
Lameiras comes strongly recommended by Tottenham’s long-standing and highly respected academy director John McDermott and he could be developed into a star, as the clips below from his last campaign reveal:



Wednesday, 13 November 2019

The curious case of Barrie McKay

Barrie McKay - the seemingly forgotten man at Swansea.

The Scottish international was one of former boss Graham Potter's six summer signings in 2018 and went on to feature in 31 of the Swans' games last season. But, under new head coach Steve Cooper, McKay has made just three appearances and all of these have been in the Carabao Cup. Even then, the winger has appeared for only a combined 120 minutes.

So, what's happened to the former Rangers flyer?

The 24-year-old hasn't been included in a match-day squad since the 2-1 defeat to Watford in the Carabao Cup back in September while his only appearance in an 18-man Championship squad was when he was an unused substitute for the opening day win against Hull City.

Even though the Scot performed decently under Potter - including a superb goal away at Bolton as well as a number of important assists - McKay is far from a loved footballer at the Liberty Stadium with Cooper at the helm.

Though regularly played out of position at Swansea with Bersant Celina favoured in the No.10 role, McKay has come in for stick from a swathe of the Swansea faithful.

The former Nottingham Forest winger should have been well on his way to staking a claim for a wing position with the departures of Daniel James, Luciano Narsingh and Jefferson Montero in the summer, but, he has instead become even more of a peripheral figure at the Liberty Stadium as the Swans hit promotion form in the first part of the 2019/20 campaign.

McKay has seen his route to the first team blocked by the return of Wayne Routledge and Nathan Dyer to the side, both of whom have been impressive in recent weeks whilst the previously outcast Andre Ayew and Celina have been found operating in wide roles also.

Image result for wayne routledge and nathan dyer"
Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge have performed well for Swansea.


In fact, McKay has found himself even further down the pecking order with the likes of Aldo Kalulu and Kristoffer Peterson getting more game time as the season progresses. And, even when Celina has played out on the left, George Byers and Yan Dhanda have been preferred to McKay in the central role behind the lone striker.

With options appearing increasingly limited at the Liberty Stadium, the Scot cuts an ever-depressing figure. Though contracted until summer 2021, McKay is surely likely to leave if he doesn't get a chance, especially when considering he has even been relegated to the Under-23s of late.

It's sad to see the decline of a talented footballer, but sometimes players just don't fit at certain clubs. McKay's quandary seems exactly that.

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.

---

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.