Thursday, 22 December 2016

Christmas in Swansea

Christmas for Swansea City could be a real turning point. Let’s face it, the two fixtures between the big day and the New Year are against West Ham and Bournemouth – a couple of sides who have been very hit and miss in the league but some how sit higher in the table than ourselves; time for change Bradders.

West Ham might’ve claimed two wins in their last two league games but that doesn’t mean they’re out of the woods just yet. According to pretty much every newspaper you buy; the club are terrified of losing their star players and Slaven Bilic will have to make do with his existing contract as the club have no plans to offer him a new deal – makes for a bad atmosphere around the Olympic Park.

Bournemouth are in the top half of the Premier League and no-one saw this coming. Three wins and three losses in their last six may leave them nine places above us but Christmas isn’t a great time for clubs struggling to maintain lofty positions. The constant fear of failure will bite hard on Eddie Howe’s team – good news for the Swans no doubt.

Seven points from six games isn’t good enough no matter how you try and convince yourself otherwise but there are glimmers of talent coming from the squad. Bradley isn’t going to be given much money to spend in January but he has to consider some defenders – even loan players will do!

If you take Man Utd as an example; they’re clearly going to buy defenders in January and that’ll leave some of their players available either on the cheap or for loan and it’s here that Bradders should be looking to reinforce. If Lindelof does join United; you have to imagine their graduating academy players will want competitive minutes on the pitch.

It’s not just England that Bradders can look at. Low cost options are available in the French Ligue 2 if you know where to look. You can scoff all you want that these players won’t be good enough but, then again, Riyad Mahrez joined Leicester from Ligue 2 and he was nominated for the Balon D’Or.

The club need to release some funds to Bradders and if they don’t trust him with their money then he shouldn’t be in charge at all. 

Friday, 16 December 2016

Boro v Swans Preview

Things will go from bad to worse if we fail to beat Middlesbrough on Saturday afternoon. Three points separate us from them and this is without the most important game of the season so far. We can make up ground on both Boro and Palace even if we can’t escape the relegation zone just yet. Defeat is not an option.

13 minutes was all it took for all our good work in the first half to be utterly ruined on Wednesday night – I can’t imagine what Bradders might’ve said to the boys at half time but it can’t have been all that much; they looked totally lost and confused.

We could’ve picked up so much momentum from last weekend; we were imperious! And yet we’re still scrabbling around for points like blind beggars.

It’s safe to say that Middlesbrough are not a better side than us so all that’s in their favour is home field advantage. If you’re travelling to the game, make sure you get there early because parking near to the Riverside is in short supply and really quite expensive for the afternoon!

We have the better of the head to head having won three to their two (two draws) and the last time we played each other we nicked the game 1-0 in the League Cup, 13th December 2012. On paper they look a decent side but an experienced ‘keeper and a big name striker aren’t enough to do well in the Premier League as Karanka is finding out.

Assuming the spine of our team remains solid (Gylfi, Britts and Rangel), we should be able to control the game for the most part. Boro can’t outpace our widemen and there’s no chance their getting past the depth of our midfield – it’s tough to see where goals might come from for them to be honest.

SkyBet don’t fancy us all that much here: Boro 1/1, Draw 12/5, Swans 14/5. Harsh odds but it makes it all the easier to break with convention and back our own team – it’s okay to do it every now and then!

Swans to win and under 2.5 goals in the game is 6/1 and I think that’ll be my bet for the day – it’s got 1-0 written all over it.

West Brom - Swansea Match Report

It’s not fair to say that we underperformed against West Brom; they are one of the Premier League’s most in form sides having only lost to Chelsea in their last six. What is safe to say is that we should’ve contained Salomon Rondon with more care across the course of his 13 minute hat trick.

I, like many, was very happy with the first half performance. It was quite a defensive display and we probably could’ve attacked West Brom with a bit more voracity but there was a clear intention to protect the 0-0 scoreline going into half time – something Bob Bradley will probably regret instructing the side to do.

We aren’t exactly solid at the back right now, in fact January can’t come soon enough to afford the chance to bring in at least one more experienced centre back, but neither were West Brom on the night. Dawson and Evans were both missing for the hosts; surely we could’ve exposed the inexperience of their back four?

Jefferson Montero should’ve done more against Allan Nyom – there was a bit too much showboating and not enough product for me. We should’ve been building from the left hand side as Nyom was pushed into the wide right area; somewhere he’s not usually comfortable.

It was good to see Wayne Routledge getting himself on the scoresheet, even if it was obviously consolation. The heads were down and there was no drive to try and level the game at least – there ought to have been more concentration on moving the ball fluidly in the middle of the park as we did against Sunderland and Crystal Palace.

The capability is there but another disappointing result has dropped us back into the relegation places ahead of the trip to Middlesbrough tomorrow. A win is vital on Saturday afternoon – it may not take us above Boro but at least it will level the points up going into Christmas week; the staff party might be put on hold for now however.

Monday, 12 December 2016

Vital Points Revive Super Swans

If you'd told me at the start of the day that we'd be out of the relegation zone by Monday afternoon on Saturday morning; you can be fairly certain my response would relate to going forth and multiplying and yet... Bradders actually pulled off a victory worthy of some serious praise.

As I mentioned in my Match Preview; Bob Bradley needed to inject some life into the attack and focus on the most talented members of the squad - who went on to secure the win? Messrs Sigurdsson and Llorente. Please, keep your applause until the end folks!

Don't get me wrong; the first half was like watching paint dry in the rain but when the lads trotted out for the second half they looked a totally different prospect. The attacking moves were brilliantly well thought out and it looked as though everyone had a particular part to play - playing to players strengths at last!

Even the referee, Craig Pawson, had a great game. Every decision he made was fair and correct, the penalty was correctly awarded and Angel Rangel can have no complaints about his booking - great to see the officials getting it right for a change.

We couldn't have asked for a better penalty taker than Sigurdsson in all honesty. I feel that Llorente wasn't quite set into the game until we took the lead then the big man settled right in and dispatched Gylfi's genius corner with aplomb.

I'm also glad to see 'Nando quite literally using his head - that second goal was very well taken and should give him the confidence boost he's needed. Between Llorente, Gylfi and Britt's we actually looked composed and threatening - we need more of this Bob and lots more of it.

Bring on West Brom on Wednesday night - if anyone's going to the game and has spare seats in the car etc; please let us know in the comments and we'll see if we can't get as many as we can to The Hawthorns.

Friday, 9 December 2016

Bob's Bad Banter

Well thanks a lot Bob. A day after Bradley vowed we would ‘fight on’, he’s come out to the press and said he can’t defend our defending! That’s exactly what we wanted to hear the day before a crucial tie with Sunderland isn’t it!?

I’m not sure what was going through Bradder’s head if I’m honest. Yes, the club haven’t replaced Ashley Williams with any great success – Amat and van der Hoorn aren’t bad options at the back, they just lack a bit of solidarity and this is their first season in the Premier League – everyone takes time to adapt to a totally different league!

It was such a bad time to speak out on the defending given the visit of Sunderland this weekend and then West Brom, Boro, West Ham, Bournemouth and Palace – all games we should be winning with a positive attitude except maybe West Brom but Tony Pulis is on a hot streak; we could bring it to an end!

I can’t help but feel Bradley’s a bit out of his depth at the minute. When you look at who else was interested in the job (not you Giggsy), I’m still coming to terms with the fact we’ve got the Premier League’s first American manager – WHY!? He keeps saying the wrong things to the press and still hasn’t got a clue who his best team are.

He’s actually making the dodgy one, Jose Mourinho, look like he’s doing a good job at Man Utd. Small wonder he’s bookie’s favourite to lose his job – 6/5 for Bradley to be sacked next on SkyBet. We all know moving a manager on isn’t always the answer but unless he beats Sunderland he’ll have a worse record than Alan Curtis had when he looked after us after Monk messed it up.

There aren’t that many managers out of work but who’d turn down a crack at the Premier League? I mean Steve Clarke’s been available for ages and it bugs me that he wasn’t even given a look in for the Swans job – he doesn’t have the best record but at least he’s managed in England before and has some kind of scouting network!

Last week was embarrassing and shipping four goals against Palace was just as bad. I don’t think Bradders will see the new year in with us if I’m honest – he hasn’t got what we need right now.

Swansea v Sunderland Preview

The game against Sunderland couldn’t be much more important to the Swans right now. Victory will take us above David Moyes’ side in the table – possibly West Ham too if results go the right way. Not quite safety but it’s better than where we are ahead of kick off!

Looking up at the rest of the table isn’t quite what Bob Bradley had in mind when he came in to replace Francesco Guidolin and – in all fairness – he has only taken five points from seven league games; more than Francesco managed though which is positive.

It’s tough to say what’s going wrong right now; look at the squad and say it’s not capable of making it to mid-table. I mean between Gylfi Sigurdsson and Fernando Llorente alone we have two class players leading the attack but we can’t seem to balance decent attack with any kind of solid defence.

Are the team still missing Ashley Williams? Well yes and he probably shouldn’t have left frankly but we need to be pro-active and accept suitable replacement wasn’t brought in – thanks Guidolin! We’re totally exposed at the back as proven in the Spurs game last weekend and, even though we beat Palace, it was proven in the game before as it took five goals before Pardew’s side stopped responding!

Bad news ahead of the Sunderland game; Ki Sung-Yeung and Federico Fernandez are both out with broken toes. It has to be said, we’re missing Ki’s influence in the middle of the park – he’s got that brilliant skill of disappearing and always being available; we’re limited on passing options without him.

Happily; Britton, Routledge and Llorente are all available for the visit of Sunderland. A bit of experience, pace and flair will no doubt boost the lads – I just hope Llorente doesn’t get marked out of the game like he has in a few this year.

Sunderland won’t be bringing Duncan Watmore, Lee Cattermole, Jack Rodwell or Paddy McNair with them to the Liberty thanks to injury but it looks like Fabio Borini will be playing some part along with either Seb Larsson or Adnan Januzaj. Mixed news on the opponent front but the stats look good.

We’ve only lost one of the last eight Premier League games against Sunderland but Moyes has never lost a Premier League game against the Swans – he likes breaking records so now might just be the time David!

Happy to see SkyBet have put some decent odds on for once: Swans are 21/20 to win, a draw is 5/2 and Sunderland to win is 5/2. I’m really liking the look of the home odds; finally the bookies have some faith in us! It doesn’t matter that Sunderland will probably be heavily backed at those odds – let them lose their money.

I’m backing: Swans to win, BTTS, 11+ match corners and 60+ match booking points at 22/1. I can’t see it being a tame affair; let’s be honest Leon Britton has his moments and will be looking forward to letting Borini know who’s in charge – should be a good ‘un this!

Sunday, 2 October 2016

All change at ForzaSwansea!

Good evening Swans fans!

I bring you news of some changes! Firstly, rest assured ForzaSwansea is staying put - it's just me that's going away.

It's been an absolute pleasure to create, edit and write for this website over the past six years (that's right, SIX years!).

I started this blog back in 2010 to chart the activity of Swansea City, just as Brendan Rodgers was settling in. Little did I know that it was to become the season the club would dramatically rise to the top flight! I followed the Swans as they took their first steps in the Premier League, their brief but exciting European tour, charted the rise and fall of both Michael Laudrup and Garry Monk, and a lot more in between.

I even won the title of Best Sports Blog in Wales at the Wales Blog Awards 2012, and wrote two books about the Swans (in 2014 and 2015). A fantastic journey that wouldn't have been possible if I was writing about a boring club.

However in the last year or two I haven't been able to dedicate the time this website deserves, thanks to other projects eating up my waking day. So I've made the decision to pass the reigns to a new group of bloggers, who have assured me that the blog will remain focused on the Swans.

The change will take place over the next few days, but make sure you keep coming back for the usual Swans news and check out the archive from the last six years.

I'm still writing about the Swans for Yahoo! Sport and am sure I have another book in me somewhere... For now, you can keep in touch with me on Twitter.

Keep visiting ForzaSwansea and keep following the Swans!

Forza Swansea!

Chris Carra
2 October, 2016