Monday 2 January 2012

Swansea City 2 – 0 Aston Villa: Happy New Year!

Swansea marked the start of 2012 and the halfway point of the season with a slick performance and generally comfortable win against Aston Villa. A significant first away win in the Premier League, marking the halfway point in the season.

Swansea looked strong, fast and confident going forward, with goals from both starting wingers – Nathan Dyer early in the first half and Wayne Routledge early in the second.

In the 4th minute, Dyer pounced on a silly back flick from Stephen Warnock and, after a slight deflection, put the ball in the back on the net. Routledge had his in the 47th with a follow up to Danny Graham's post hit. A scrappy goal, but his first for the Swans: a long time coming and well deserved.

After recent weeks, Dyer seemed to be back to his old form and used his usual brand of high speed and skill to make a nuisance of himself against Villa's back line. The inclusion of Andrea Orlandi was quite a shock before the game, but he did enough to impress with some nice touches and a wonderful strike in the first half. Leon Britton and Kemy Agustien looked as strong as usual in the centre. Defensively Swansea were solid, with Angel Rangel, Neil Taylor and Stephen Caulker all injury free for a change and joined captain Ashley Williams in contributing to the clean-sheet.

A bigger plus for Swansea is that Aston Villa weren't actually that bad. Villa didn't back down after Dyer's early goal and kept attacking. They also had the most possession (57%), but a number of misplaced passes didn't help their cause, while they were unable to capitalise on any of their fourteen corners (compared to Swansea's no corners), incurring a fourth consecutive home defeat.

Though it's hard to pick out Swansea's negatives, there were a few. The game saw a few silly tackles, with Caulker, Agustien and Orlandi receiving yellow cards which could have been avoided. The final ball was also questionable at times – the hard work was always done well, but the final cross or shot was scuffed a little too often. It's still a concern that more aren't put away, but games like this will give the confidence needed to remedy this problem.

Kudos to the travelling Jacks who filled Villa Park with hymns, arias and confirmation that Swans will, indeed, tear you apart... again. Nathan Dyer rightly saluted you after his goal and you deserved it.

After this good win, Swansea start the year 11th in the Premier League. All eyes turn to the FA Cup match away against Barnsley on Saturday, before the second chance to get something from Arsenal, on the 15th January.

Thursday 29 December 2011

2011: The Year of Swansea City

It's the most wonderful time of the year – the time for food, drink, football and drink. And food.

This is also the time for reflection. While it's up to you to reflect on your own lives in 2011, I can help you reflect on the goings-ons of Wales' only Premier League team.

It's as comprehensive a compilation as I could produce, while still making it readable within ten minutes (no detailed match reports here then). If you've noticed anything I may have missed, write it as a comment and I'll include it!

I've also included my “Swansea Team of the Year 2011” at the end for you to disagree with.

“My, my, my... did that really happen this year?” you may gasp as you read the next few thousand words, for this is the story of Swansea City's 2011.

January 2011

After the snow of last Christmas, Swansea started the year second place in the Championship table.

My earliest blog post fell in the first frosty week of January, where I addressed the lack of fire-power up front (not much has changed). Brendan Rodgers responded by signing Luke Moore and Ryan Harley.

Players also left the club in January: the ever likeable Shefki Kuqi ended his contract by mutual consent, while Gorka Pintado went on loan to AEK Larnaca FC.

The biggest shock of the January 2011 transfer window was the re-signing of Leon Britton from Sheffield United, who returned to South Wales after leaving the club in 2010.

On the field, Swansea won their first home game of the year – 1-0 vs Reading (a team they'd meet again in a slightly bigger match in May), and beat Colchester 4-0 in the Carling Cup, before bowing out to the might of Leyton Orient later in the month.


February saw a great streak of wins, and would've been a perfect month had it not been for the 1-0 loss to Cardiff at the Liberty Stadium. Another game of note was Middlesbrough away; an intense match where the Swans eventually came back from a 3-1 almost-certain loss by winning 4-3.

February also saw me slated for my criticism of Luke Moore, though I stood by my comments: an average player that wouldn't impact the Swans as much as people expected.


Fabio Borini joined the club on loan from Chelsea and really kicked off Swansea's promotion drive, scoring two on his debut. Tamas Priskin joined on loan too, though he was less memorable.

Swansea's form dipped slightly in March, winning just one in four games (3-2 at home against Nottingham Forest).

Elsewhere, the Audio Jacks podcast was born – a Swansea City podcast presented by myself and Matt Barroccu (albeit under the then title, “It wouldn't happen in Swansea”).


A media ban on Swansea players was issued by Huw Jenkins, who wanted to focus on winning games. However, Swansea continued their bad away form, which began to dent their hopes of automatic promotion – something that looked near certain earlier in the year. However the Swans went on to secure a place in the play-offs after beating Ipswich 4-1.

Tamas Priskin returned to Ipswich after becoming injured, scoring just one goal for Swansea.


A massive month. The Swans played their final league game at home: a routine 4-0 victory against Sheffield United, ending the season in third place in the Championship table.

Swansea were placed against Nottingham Forest in the play-offs, drawing the away leg 0-0, after Neil Taylor was sent off in the second minute. The second leg at the Liberty Stadium was full of entertainment, where Swansea eventually beat Nottingham Forest 3-1, including a wonder strike from Leon Britton and a last-gasp goal from the halfway line by Darren Pratley, securing a place in the Championship Play-off Final in Wembley.

Swansea fans got their first taste of everyone's favourite pass-time: queuing at the Liberty. The first time was for Wembley tickets.

Those 40,000 Jacks with tickets make their way from South Wales to London to watch history in the making. After a first half of sheer bliss and a three goal lead, Swansea make things difficult by allowing Reading back into the game. Thankfully, Scott Sinclair ensured it was Swansea's day with a successful penalty that finally brought the Premier League to South Wales!


The victory is celebrated throughout the city with an open-top bus parade. As the realisation of the Premier League sinks in, it was all change for the Swansea squad.

The first disappointing move was Fabio Borini's exit to Parma, before Darren Pratley left the club for Bolton. More surprisingly Dorus De Vries left for Wolves and a frantic search for a new keeper began. Cedric van der Gun and Albert Serran also said their goodbyes, to shrugs of the shoulder from most fans.

Swansea made a record transfer move, bringing Danny Graham to the club for £3.5 million while Ryan Harley finally joined the club after spending six months with Exeter on-loan.

A second bout of mega-queuing at the Liberty took place, this time for season-tickets.


“How many points do I need... wait do I need to be a season-ticket holder too or... hang on, why does he get priority over me if...” That's right, July was the month we saw the ultra-confusing, always-infuriating Jack Army membership scheme launched. Everyone in Swansea joined anyway, making it seem a little pointless.

Swansea's Premier League home and away kits were also revealed: the home kit was nice as expected, but the orange away kit baffled at first, then annoyed soon after, as people discovered it was no more than an old line of generic Adidas training kits. The third mega bout of queuing took place at the stadium for those after a home kit.

The club played summer friendlies against Neath, Port Talbot and Afan Lido... really preparing themselves for the best in the Premier League! At least it was an excuse for a little summer football.

In the transfer window, Steven Caulker arrived at the club on a season-long loan from Spurs, while goalkeeper Jose Moreira joined from Benfica.


In August, Leroy Lita signed up from Middlesbrough, while Michel Vorm joined the club from FC Utrecht. Gerhard Tremmel also signed at the end of August, after impressing during his summer trial.

Swansea played, and won, friendlies against Celtic and Real Betis at the Liberty Stadium, showing off a few new players, though the first major test was Man City at the Eithad. This was a test Swansea technically failed, though in an impressive way, with wonderful saves from Michel Vorm (the first time many had properly seen him in action), and proof Swansea could replicate their impressive passing game in the big league.

Embarrassingly though, the club lost 3-1 to Shrewsbury in the Carling Cup. Though this allowed concentration on the Premier League, it was a feeble way to exit the competition.

With winnable games against Wigan and Sunderland, Swansea were unable to find the back of the net and ended the month goalless, though quickly showing they were not finding the new league too daunting.

Ryan Harley and Shaun MacDonald both left the club in this month, leaving a very ginger-shaped hole. Elsewhere, Alan Tate broke his leg in what the club described as a "bizarre golfing accident" (aka buggygate).


Transfer Deadline Day saw the Swans sign Darnel Situ from Lens and Rafik Halliche on loan from Fulham, moves that would supposedly boost the club's defensive problems. However, an annoying amount of red tape stopped these from being eligible to play. Fede Bessone also rejoined the club – a shock to many supporters.

On the field, the phrase: “You wait for a bus, then three come along at once” summed up Swansea's first goals in the Premier League. They nabbed their first three goals and a comfortable 3-0 win against West Brom.

This game was sandwiched between two “glamour” ties – one a game Swansea could well have won against Arsenal (instead losing 1-0), and the other a less than impressive performance at Stamford Bridge (at least an away goal was scored in the 4-1 loss).


If September was a step in the right direction, October was a slight step backwards, featuring some of the concentration lapses and cock-ups that we are accustomed to from Swansea City.

Two decent home wins (against Stoke and Bolton) fell either side of two away losses: the first against fellow newcomers Norwich, who scored two early goals and took advantage of poor Swans performance. The second came against Wolves, where Swansea let a 2-0 lead slide into a 2-2 draw after two goals in two minutes from the home side.

The lack of away wins continued.


Though a quiet month thanks to an international break, November saw the game of the season as Swansea welcomed Manchester United to the Liberty Stadium – a game that stirred up plenty of anticipation and excitement, in addition to irritation and disappointment (again, mainly through the Jack Army ticketing system). Essentially it was a game Swansea could've actually won, let alone draw. However a opportunistic goal from Hernandez ensured United left with a 1-0 victory.

Other games included the exciting, yet frustrating, 0-0 draw away to Liverpool and another 0-0 draw with Aston Villa in a subdued Liberty Stadium fixture.


December packed six games into one month, though the Swans were unable to pick up as many points as expected.

The month began with Yakubu running riot in the shocking 4-2 loss at bottom-of-the-table Blackburn, a game in which two rare away goals were overshadowed by poor defending.

Michel Vorm was again the hero in the 2-0 win against Fulham the following week, while a 'boxing day' match between QPR produced a game of two very different halves – another one Swansea should've grabbed by the scruff.

Angel Rangel and Neil Taylor both picked up fresh injuries in December which, again, highlighted the lack of depth in defence and the need for an established utility back in the January Transfer window. Up front, Rory Donnelly was the main name in Brendan Rodgers' sights, though the young Irishman seemed to be highly sought after...

It's all up to Mr. Rodgers and his men to write what happens in 2012. Will it be the year Swansea face a big relegation battle? Will they get their act together in attack and finish in the top ten? It's an exciting time to be a Swans fan!

Before I sign off for the year, here is my "Swansea City Team of 2011" - including players who have now left/have fallen out of form, but did so much for the club at some point this year.

Team of 2011
Michel Vorm
Angel Rangel
Garry Monk (Captain)
Ashley Williams
Neil Taylor
Leon Britton
Stephen Dobbie
Mark Gower
Scott Sinclair
Nathan Dyer
Fabio Borini

Dorus De Vries
Alan Tate
Joe Allen
Danny Graham

I know that this will produce a few annoyed responses! I feel it's about right. I did have trouble with the "Gower or Allen" question - they both had their ups and downs - but Gower just pipped it for me. What's your Team of 2011?

Happy New Year to all readers of the blog. I hope 2012 sees you well. Forza Swansea!

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Swansea 1 – 1 QPR: Fair

I have a mammoth Swansea City 2011 yearly review on its way in the next 24 hours, but I have taken time out of compiling that to write a few thoughts about Swansea vs QPR.

Football returned to the Liberty Stadium on 27th December for a very entertaining game between Swansea and QPR. Both promoted last season, both in need of a win to repair a slight dip in form. Both, probably, felt they would have won it on paper and should have won it at the end of the game. But they didn't – it was a draw, and a draw was a fair result.

Swansea deserved to win from their first half performance. Again, very slick, easy-on-the-eye passing which resulted in the opportunity and goal for Danny Graham. Was it a handball from the striker? To be honest, it looked like. Should it have been disallowed? Probably, but, as you know, the ref wasn't having the best of days.

Graham had a good game overall, as did Leon Britton, while Kemy Agustien was strong in the centre (until he moved to right back). Michel Vorm had a few good saves and Joe Allen looked good, if slightly flustered.

However, Neil Warnock seemed to transfer his anger to his players and the second half became QPR's to win. The point that turned Swansea from 'cruising' to 'stumbling through' appeared to be the joint substitution of Dyer and Moore for Rangel and Routledge. No sooner had this happened, a flick backwards from Britton saw Mackie outrun Williams and draw level. Swansea looked disjointed from this point onwards and QPR could well have scored another two.

A stonewall penalty appeal was turned down by Mr Probert, cancelling out his earlier mistake which allowed the Swans goal. Probert seemed to have an odd game. The ref is said to have done a good job when he tends to keep out of the limelight, but Probert was all over the place – frustrating both teams in equal measures. As mentioned, he allowed Graham to handball, but turned down a clear penalty. He wanted throw-ins retaken and allowed players to talk back too often. He even got in the way of a Joey Barton run, which nearly ended in a Swansea goal.

Though a point is obviously better than a loss, the game against QPR was one Swansea should've grabbed by the scruff and put away before half time. However, like we've seen a few times already this season, they've let the opposition get back into it. With Spurs rampant anything more than a loss on Saturday will be an exceptional result. Then again, Swansea seem to perform better when they are expected to lose, so a point or three isn't that unlikely.

At 14th in the Premier League table, Swansea are in a dangerous place, but it's not time for panicking yet. At halfway through the season they're looking like a team that are “almost there”. Some tweaking with the final third – maybe another capable striker – in the transfer window and I'm still confident of a top ten finish this season.

Friday 2 December 2011

Bite-size Blog: Swansea City vs Blackburn Rovers

The bite-size blog returns! A short, swift kick of opinion, for those who don't have the time to read pages of endless drivel.

This Saturday Swansea City take on Blackburn Rovers: a team at the very bottom of the Premier League.

The opposition:

With just seven points to their name so far, things are not looking too hot for Steve Kean and his men. They've won just one game this season (a frenetic 4-3 win against Arsenal), and have 16 games separating them from their last clean sheet.

Their last match was against Cardiff in the Carling Cup on Tuesday, where they lost 2-0. Steve Kean admits he essentially forfeited the game, keeping players fresh for Swansea – a game Kean believes will “kick-start” Blackburn's season.

There aren't too many players to fear, though Nigerian international Ayegbeni Yakubu will keep Ashley Williams busy enough (probably).

Swansea focus

So is this a must-win game for the Swans? Yes, I think so.

A loss to Blackburn, who are suffering a terrible run, will not make for happy fans. If a draw at Liverpool seemed like points thrown away, a draw or less on Saturday will be an incredible waste!

I would have put my savings (all £94) on Swansea winning on Saturday, but injuries are standing in the way of pure confidence. Jazz Richards will fill in for the injured Angel Rangel, but his finesse and confidence is off the mark.

Danny Graham is also likely to miss the match, which is worrying as he has stepped up in recent games, even though the goals are still not consistently flowing. Leroy Lita is likely to stand in, though I'd be happier seeing Sinclair take the lone striker role, with Routledge and Dyer on the wings. It won't happen, but it's an idea that hasn't been explored enough.

What results mean:

Currently 13th, a win could technically see Swansea move to 8th in the table, providing the five teams above all lose, but it's unlikely (isn't it?). Let's say a good win should see Swansea back in the top ten.

Betting on the game?

Despite me, and most other fans, feeling the away win, the bookmakers are looking to Blackburn to take the points. Swansea aren't likely to score many away from home, but if their Rangel-less defence stays solid and Lita can muster up more than a few nice attempts, I think Swansea to win 1-0 (at 9/1 on PaddyPower) is a realistic bet!

A 'scorecast' on Swansea to win 1-0 with Sinclair scoring the only goal is a generous 45/1. That's worth a pound!

Saturday 26 November 2011

Swansea WILL NOT be able to deal with the might of Heskey

I hope the title of this blog has done the trick and made you scream "what is he talking about!?" - those who haven't headbutted their computer screens in anger and disbelief will know I am joking.

While Christmas is the busiest time of year for many around the globe, it's not just over-priced gift boxes containing a cheap bar of soap and a Homer Simpson flannel (£15.99? Bargain!) and excessive drinking that will take up the majority of our free time. This year Swansea City FC will essentially be juggling eight games over the festive period, which is a lot of football-watching to cram in!

As it's been a few weeks since I've been regularly blogging (holiday and exams eating up a good chunk of that), I feel a little "recap" and look ahead to the upcoming month is in order.

Let's blitz through this:

I was in America for this one and used a 'pay-per-view' television to watch the game on. I wish I hadn't, as Swansea fell apart against fellow promotion successfuls in a game they should have won on paper. 3-1 to Norwich.

Again, still in the USA for this one (thankfully it was free on cable this time). Swansea had the chance to hammer Wolves and record a nice away win with two early goals, but buckled and ended up allowing Wolves to score two goals in two minutes and share the points. A big waste!

Swansea welcomed back Darren Pratley with a 3-1 win over Bolton, in a game that saw Joe Allen, Scott Sinclair and Danny Graham all score. Graham scored an own goal in the second half which seemed to give Bolton something to chase, but thankfully another 'Wolves' wasn't on the cards.

An enjoyable game to watch, but frustrating towards the end when Swansea should have won it - they were the better team on the day.

Man United
Another great game to watch, but Swansea seemed in awe of United in the first half and Rangel's silly mistake cost Swansea a draw and potentially (if Scott Sinclair hadn't boobed up his shot) a win over the champions.

So that's the past out of the way - what does Santa have in his sack for Swans fans?

December will be the busiest month in Swansea City's Premier League calendar, with six games, sandwiched between the Aston Villa game on Sunday and a game on 2nd January against... Aston Villa. It seems Villa will kick off and round up the festive period in Swansea then!

Aston Villa currently sit 8th in the table. Swansea are in 13th, but just two points separate the teams. With Danny Graham settled and the work-rate of the whole team one of the best in the Premier League, not to mention the home advantage, there is no reason why Swansea shouldn't win! Villa fans know this and confidence is apparently low among them. Yes, Michael Vorm will be dealing with one of football's most incredible strikers – Emile Heskey – but the three points are definitely up for grabs! My predication? A simple 1-0 home win to Swansea.

So how many points can we expect from the festive season?

I'm not going to get into score prediction, but roughly, this is how I see the win-draw-losses working out:

Aston Villa (home) - win
Blackburn (away) - win
Fulham (home) - win
Newcastle (away) - lose
Everton (away) - lose
QPR (home) - win
Tottenham (home) - draw
Aston Villa (away) - draw

14 points from 8 games.

Realistically speaking, Swansea, if they can keep up their good form, are looking at about 14 points. They could lose at home to Villa and win away at Newcastle, but around 14 points is what we're looking at achieving. This would set the team up for a great start to 2012.

The most important upcoming games are against the likes of Blackburn and Fulham who are below the club in the table and that's where we want to keep them! Same goes for Everton who are a place above the Swans in the table, so taking points off them is more important than the glamour ties.

This ends a relatively short and vague blog, but I'm going to leave you with this video I found. It pretty much sums up Emile Heskey's prowess on FIFA – not sure why I find it so amusing!

(NB: I didn't produce, edit or upload the video, and own no copyrights to anything - etc, etc, etc)

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Swansea City: Man United tickets sell out... but why?

I wasn't planning to write a new post until my November exams had finished (towards the end of next week), but with my Twitter feed going mental over the Man United ticket problems I felt I had to write a small reflection.

Let's get the facts out first - as was reported by the club this afternoon:

Swansea City can confirm that all home tickets for the Premier League fixture with champions Manchester United on November 19 have sold out today.

Following a busy first day of sales on Monday, the remaining few tickets were snapped up this morning as the club sold out its home allocation for the sixth consecutive match.

It seems to be the season-ticket holders with over a certain amount of points on the Jack Army membership scheme who got hold of the majority of tickets yesterday, before the final few were purchased today (I believe these were also season-ticket holders, albeit with less points).

This does beg the question: why does the ever-infuriating Jack Army scheme give priority to those who already have a ticket to the match? (I'm not having a go at season-ticket holders by the way - far from it - instead having a go at the logic of the scheme). Naturally season-ticket holders don't need another ticket as they already have one. I'm not arguing this case too much, because the answer is probably: they are buying them for friends/brothers/fathers who, say, can't afford a season ticket usually, which is a probable scenario. I have little qualms with that.

There is the option that they are buying tickets for 'plastic' fans or Man United fans living in Swansea who just want to watch Alex Ferguson’s men instead of their home team (and there will be quite a few in the stands by all accounts). This is irritating as it fills the seat of a true Swans fan who may not be able to afford a season ticket, or who lives away and can't get to every match. However, I can write this option off as a 'it was bound to happen because its the biggest game of the season'.

What I don't accept as fair is the rumours of those who have bought a spare ticket and are selling them for a large profit, either online or on the gates. Currently these are unconfirmed rumours – I'm going off a number of comments I've noted on Twitter and Facebook. There will always be those wanting to make a profit off other people, but the worst thing about these rumours is: it is Swans fans making a profit off Swans fans!

If you think about it, only those with the season-ticket AND Jack Army membership AND priority points (essentially fans who have already spent a lot of time and money following the club) were able to buy the tickets before they sold out. Therefore, if any are exchanging hands for well over the RRP, it's a loyal Swans fan ripping off another Swans fan. As I said: these may just be rumours and come to nothing, but if you are thinking of selling your ticket on to a genuine Swansea supporter, please don't do it extortionately!

Remember, if you weren't lucky enough to get a ticket but are still intent on watching the match, it is on ESPN and in the majority of Swansea pubs with that dodgy Armenian television channel on Saturday 19 November at 5:30pm .

That's it from me, I'll be back soon with my usual brand of sketchy, irreverent (and irrelevant) blogs.

Friday 7 October 2011

Swansea City on FIFA 12

Firstly, may I apologise to the regular readers who haven't seen a blog post for a while. It's been a busy few weeks and I've been a little pushed for time, so a couple of regular activities for me – such as the blog and AudioJacks podcast – have had to take a back seat. However, here I am returning to share a few thoughts on Swansea and FIFA 12.

The first thing we must address is the fact that Swansea are in the Premier League. If this news hasn't sunk in for you, seeing the team there in FIFA must be the proof you need! Though in real life this is wonderful, in-game some of the pleasure has gone: the pleasure of taking a smaller team through the divisions to the glory of top flight football! This season Swansea have already booked their place in the greatest league in the world. Where's the fun in that!? A small price to pay I guess. I guess getting into the Champions League will be the aim for manager mode now!

Talking of aims, my current target is to actually win a game. Or even to score a goal. One thing you may agree with if you've had a go: FIFA 12 is hard. This is not a terrible thing for those liking a challenge, but even getting the ball off the opposition seems to be a struggle with the revamped defending system. It's a hard game. Or I'm shit. One of those...

Attacking is also more difficult, though more interesting I must admit. Past editions of the iconic game have seemed a little 'ping-pongy' at times, but FIFA 12 seems to have changed the physics of the game again, meaning you have to work hard for every pass, every shot and every goal. Not delving too far into the physics of it (mainly because I don't understand them), I will conclude goals are harder to come by, but when they do come you may find they are more enjoyable.

So, onto the Swans: the primary reason I am writing this blog.

Before we take to the field, I must mention there is finally a stadium that resembles the Liberty! Though it'll probably be a good few years before the Liberty Stadium is created as it's own special stadium, 'British Modern' has the look of Swansea's home: a generic, concrete, one-tier stadium that does the job. With a simple name change in the settings, it feels just like a Saturday afternoon in Landore – I can almost smell the Tesco Stand.

It seems not much effort has gone into developing the facial detail of the Swansea players, though the general body size, hair cut and skin colour ensures it's not difficult to distinguish who's who on the pitch. From the usual 'tele camera' angle, Dyer looks like Dyer, Williams looks like Williams and Tate looks like Beaker. This makes it easy enough when playing as you know who to pass to for zippy wing play, and who to switch to when making that goal saving slide tackle!

A feature born in FIFA 11 was the post-match player ratings screen, where each individual player was awarded what the computer judged as fair ratings. While the concept is the same on FIFA 12, the CGI avatars of the player's faces have been replaced with an actual photo of the player. In theory this adds realism, though as the picture is relatively small it seems to warp the photos slightly. I've noticed Stephen Caulker looks like Mr Miyagi, while something odd happens to Scott Sinclair's forehead that makes him resemble a Klingon.

All the new signings, as expected, are available to play with (yes, including Bessone!). Even Bodde is injury free, though it seems like cheating if I play him - I'm a stickler for realism.

Commentary is the final point I'll touch on. In one of my first Swansea vs. Cardiff matches I played (Cardiff won 4-0 by the way... sorry) I noticed the commentary team of Martin Tyler and Alan Smith seemed fresher than previous games. The specific commentary they make about the passion of the South Wales derby is nice to hear, instead of the generic old "oh, this will be a good derby match" that could apply to anything. If you get bored of those two, Clive Tyldesley and Andy Townsend are the other option. Spoilt for choice these days aren't we!

Overall, FIFA 12 will provide me with a lot more game-play than FIFA 11 did, mainly through the challenges it poses. I've yet to have a good go at manager mode, though from what I've seen it will take up the majority of my cold winter evenings. I do feel I may have to change the difficultly level from 'pro' to 'semi-pro' soon, lest I throw my PS3 at the wall in the frustration of not being able to make one successful tackle.

Until next time, happy gaming!