I'll be the first to admit I wasn't certain when Paul Clement was announced as our new manager, akin to many of our fans, but he has done a fantastic job since his appointment securing victories over Liverpool and Southampton in a matter of weeks - next target is Manchester City.
Pep Guardiola has finally shown his true colours at City and dropped his chosen Goalkeeper, Claudio Bravo, and his talismanic striker, Sergio Aguero, in favour of what he believes is a more balanced side with bags of experience and youthful exuberance.
Pull the other one Pep - even though the Etihad is hardly ever near capacity; the fans that do show up will be baying for blood if Aguero misses another game and it would just happen to the Swans who are the opponents for what many City fans believe to be judgement day.
Let's face it, we're on a great run at the moment despite conceding in both of our last two games. There's a real belief about the team that can't be ignored; we'll score more than our opponents and that's that. It reminds me of Brian Clough and Sir Alex Ferguson's managerial style - keep attacking and you'll score more than you concede: Simple.
Only Jefferson Montero is missing for us against City but the winger might not be missed too much as Clement is inevitably going to field the same team that looked so comfortable in possession against Southampton - Sigurdsson from the left has breathed new life into his distribution which wasn't exactly lacking before the wide shift.
Do I honestly believe we can beat Man City? Yes. The Liverpool game proves we can compete with these so called 'bigger clubs' and money won't buy City an easy ride against an in form Swans team.
My biggest concern is the injury risk to the likes of Wayne Routledge and Ki who will no doubt come face to face with Fernandinho in City's midfield - a player who's been sent off three times in six games isn't someone I'd like to be trying to beat; he'll jab his studs right in at our quicker players and we all know full well he will.
I'm going to back a draw here - City are playing poorly and we're on a brilliant run but I have a feeling the Manchester side will peg us back eventually. I've been wrong several times before but I'm going for realism here.
If anyone is attending the game and has a spare seat; please let us know in the comments and we'll try and make sure everyone who wants to go gets there.
Tuesday, 31 January 2017
Paul Clement will be ruing the fact that the Swans didn’t play at the weekend to try and maintain the positivity drawn from the win over Liverpool but plenty of rest will no doubt see his side in better shape than tonight’s opponents Southampton who have been in cup action throughout the last week.
Mixed fortunes for the visitors tonight; a nail biting two leg tie with Liverpool ending in victory and a place in the EFL Cup final and then total collapse as Arsenal romped to a 5-0 win over the Saints – Ouch!
Where does that leave us? Well, I’d say in pole position frankly. Our defensive frailties are still cause for concern but Clement has instilled a classic managerial belief into the team: if they score, we’ll just score more.
Great news as Fernando Llorente looks set to stay, at least until the summer, and Luciano Narsingh stands a good chance of making his debut – albeit from the bench most likely. Ki Sung-Yueng is back after a calf problem but both Leon Britton and the exciting Oli McBurnie both miss out.
Plenty of injury worries for Southampton but one key name is still absent for the Saints. Virgil Van Dijk, the highly rated and much talked about centre back, is set to miss out yet again with an ankle injury meaning Llorente might find a bit more space in the air than he might’ve been expecting.
Claude Puel clearly wasn’t interested in an FA Cup run this season as he made 10 changes to the side that beat Liverpool in the EFL Cup for the trip to the Emirates – does that mean he’s pushing for a decent finish in the league? Does that mean his side are good enough to beat us? Who knows!
Last time out, in the reverse fixture, Southampton won by a single goal that seems to be a regular occurrence between us and the Saints. The last three meetings at the Liberty have ended 1-0 to Southampton but tonight’s the night that changes surely?
My favourite fact for today? Paul Clement has already equalled Bradley’s tally of wins and it’s taken him just three games to do it – stick that in your pipe Bradders; we’ll never know quite why you were ever appointed!
I’m thinking 2-1 tonight. I can’t see us keeping a clean sheet because frankly Shane Long is a lethal forward on his day but I don’t believe Southampton are playing well enough to stop us scoring more than they manage – I’ve been wrong before but I’m feel good about this one.
Friday, 27 January 2017
With the Transfer Window closing fast; I thought it best to take a look at who could be coming, going or staying in the next few days for Swansea City. There are a few stories doing the rounds in the papers that are of particular interest; but how true they are remains to be seen:
Birmingham City might’ve speculatively approached one of our more senior players but Wayne Routledge has committed himself to Swansea by signing a new two and a half year deal that will see him through to 2019.
20 goals in 204 games for Swansea might not seem like a great return but, as a player who’s been with us since 2011, it was vital to Clement’s cause that he secure Routledge’s services moving forwards.
A player who tends to be something of a forgotten man despite appearing 14 times to date this season; winger Modou Barrow is on the radar of Newcastle United according to their manager Rafa Benitez.
I doubt Barrow will make the move given he has been labelled a back up option if Newcastle fail to tempt Andros Townsend back to the club and he is currently plying his trade in the Premier League not the Championship.
Newcastle may be favourites to secure promotion this season but that probably won’t be enough to convince Barrow to make the move to St James’ Park.
Not necessarily a transfer rumour; instead the opinion of former Swansea winger Leighton James. Alfie Mawson has impressed since coming to Swansea but he needs someone with Terry’s level of experience to give him the knowledge to compete at the highest.
Wages would no doubt be a concern as our pay structure wouldn’t allow for us to pay anywhere near all of Terry’s exorbitant salary but if Antonio Conte is serious about allowing Terry to leave the club on loan then we should definitely lodge a bid – we do miss the commanding presence of Ashley Williams something rotten.
Obviously, our talismanic midfielder will be linked with a raft of clubs repeatedly during any transfer window and this January has been no different.
The story has broken thanks to Dimitri Payet’s stubborn attitude towards his current employers: West Ham United. The Hammers are set to sign Robert Snodgrass from Hull City this week and Sigurdsson has been identified as the ideal creative partner for the Scottish midfielder.
I can’t see it happening personally. Even if we do get relegated this season, Sigurdsson has learned his lesson about playing for other clubs in England – his dismal spell at Tottenham will live long in his memory for certain.
With the Checkatrade Trophy out of our younger stars’ minds; they will no doubt be looking to impress Paul Clement in the hopes of gaining regular first team football. Some have already made their Premier League bows but who should you be keeping an eye out for in the coming weeks?
Anyone who’s ever watch the Australian A-League will be more than familiar with one of our leading reserve ‘keepers. Five appearances thus far for the Under 23’s has seen Birighitti keep two clean sheets and the 25 year old stands a good chance of usurping Kristoffer Nordfeldt of his place on the bench in the near future.
A very cultured defender with a knack for getting forward; Aaron Lewis reminds me very much of Luke Shaw in his early first team years at Southampton. Lewis is a big fan of Roberto Carlos and has clearly modelled much of his playing style on the legendary Brazilian. His overlapping runs and incredibly accurate crossing make him perfect back up for the recently arrived Martin Olsson.
Lewis even has family ties to the Busby Babes. His uncle is Kenny Morgans; the last survivor rescued from the plane wreckage in 1958 – clearly the 18 year old comes with strong pedigree.
Formerly of Watford, Scottish midfielder George Byers has been a star turned in Swansea City’s Under 23 squad. Five goals in eleven appearances from midfield this season will no doubt have Paul Clement interested in giving Byers his debut for the club – he has made his professional debut for Watford in the past but only as a substitute against Charlton.
A free transfer with an eye for goal and superb distribution make George Byers a great option moving forward – it only takes one injury to a first team midfielder and Byers will be included without doubt.
Probably the pick of the bunch in the Under 23’s – Oli McBurnie has had a busy career already and he’s only 20 years old. Starting out at Bradford City; McBurnie has had loan spells at Chester, Newport County and Bristol Rovers but has been retained by the club this season and made his debut in the EFL Cup game against Peterborough; scoring twice in the game.
McBurnie has scored 10 in 10 appearances for the Under 23’s and is knocking hard on the door of Paul Clement’s Premier league squad – it won’t be long before we’re all singing his name and hoping the club can keep hold of such a prolific talent.
Since the start of the season; the newly formatted Checkatrade Trophy has seen development squads included for the first time in the competitions history – for those who’ve been keeping an eye out – you’ll be more than aware of just how well our Under 21’s squad have done in the competition.
A tense quarter final against Coventry saw our younger lads tumble out of the Checkatrade Trophy on penalties but it has to be noted just how well they’ve performed throughout the course of the cup. The last 16 was a nail biter of a contest as the Swansea Under 21’s hosted Wolverhampton Wanderers development squad and eased past them to set up a quarter final tie with League One Coventry City.
3,300 fans were in attendance at the Liberty Stadium as a strong Coventry XI took to the field in the hope of beating Gary Richards and Cameron Toshack’s young squad. The Swans team included Jay Fulton, who has made 10 Premier League appearances this season so far, along with highly rated midfielder trio Alex Bray, Owain Jones and Ryan Blair.
Swansea also included Gerhard Tremmel as the only overage player in the team; the German goalkeeper is finding his chances limited in the first team despite his advancing years; he’s 38 now but has provided a solid base for the team in the Checkatrade Trophy.
It was a nervy game against Coventry despite them taking advantage of the competition’s ruling that they need only field five first team players. Four changes from the side that faced Fleetwood at the weekend meant some younger players were afforded their opportunity to shine but it wasn’t a stellar performance by any stretch of the imagination.
Chances were few and far between for both sides but the young Swans had the better of the play for the most part. Tyler Reid swung a dangerous cross in not long after kick off but Coventry’s ‘keeper cut it out before any harm could be done. Owain Jones dropped an equally threatening cross after 20 minutes but Coventry withstood the pressure.
Highly rated Swans forward Oli McBurnie saw a golden opportunity deflected over the bar just before half time as neither side could break the deadlock.
The second half got underway and almost sent the Swans fans into a frenzy as McBurnie thrashed a shot from close range but Charles-Cook in the Coventry goal denied him yet again. Finally, the breakthrough came as Alex Bray worked his way into the box only to be toppled by Coventry’s Ryan Haynes – Oli McBurnie confidently dispatched the resulting penalty: 1-0 Swans.
In true Swans style; the young lads continued to press as they looked to extend their advantage but the excitement seemed to get to them five minutes before the final whistle. A dubious foul saw Coventry in a glorious position and George Thomas’ lofted delivery found striker Jordan Willis: 1-1 and penalties followed.
Disappointingly, only Aaron Lewis and George Byers were able to convert their penalties with Botti Biabi and Ryan Blair both giving the ‘keeper too much of an indication of where they were aiming their spot kicks. Tremmel failed to save any of Coventry’s penalties and the young Swans crashed out of the Checkatrade Trophy 4-2.
Despite a disappointing result, the Swans development squad can hold their heads high as Quarter Finalists and the last remaining Under 21’s squad in the competition. The future is bright for Swansea and it’s arriving at precisely the right moment as Paul Clement seeks fresh talent from the development squad to bolster his team for the Premier League relegation battle.
Monday, 23 January 2017
Who says that pessimism doesn’t help a club succeed? Well, Paul Clement for one! An unbelievable reversal of fortunes saw the Swans triumph over Liverpool at Anfield for the first time ever in the league and give the new manager his first Premier League win since taking over – what a way to do it eh?
There are a lot of talking points to discuss but one key factor, for me, was the performance of Fernando Llorente. The Spaniard has been linked all month with a move away from Swansea but put on a show that made it clear that his future lies with us – a massive relief!
The first half was typically casual by both sides and there was little to shout about save for Tom Carroll’s 20th minute effort crashing against the post; it would’ve been some debut if his shot had avoided Dejan Lovren. Not long before Carroll’s effort, Jordan Henderson picked out Emre Can and the German was given far too much space to pick his header; thankfully it was an atrocious effort that spun over the bar.
And, of course, let’s not forget Adam Lallana firmly believing he’s a better footballer than his overall performances suggest. Lallana’s overhead effort ended up so far into the stands I’d be surprised if the ball made it back onto the pitch…
The first half defensive display was actually very promising overall. Far less errors to mention and the back line looked organised – I can’t help but think Martin Olsson’s experience has given structure to the back four.
The second half really kicked into life when Dejan Lovren handed us a corner under very little pressure and Fernandez’ unchallenged header dropped the ball nicely for Llorente to, quite literally, poke home. It might not be the best goal Fernando ever scores but it might end up being one of his favourites.
Two minutes passed and Liverpool looked all over the place. I can’t believe how easily Olsson’s deft touch managed to set Tom Carroll off down the left and how superb the young midfielder’s cross was for Llorente to power home – a flash of sheer brilliance from the Swans and proof of Carroll’s quality.
Sadly, the wave of excitement caused us to lose our heads about 60 seconds after Llorente’s second as Roberto Firmino got the better of Olsson to head past Fabianski. A glimmer of hope for the hosts saw Klopp replace the largely ineffective Coutinho with the fragile Daniel Sturridge and it was game on again as we rawked up to the other end only for Mawson to head Gylfi’s cross narrowly wide.
Irritatingly, Wijnaldum remembered briefly how to play football and delivered a cross of world class standards for Firmino to pluck out of the air before hammering the ball home. Pundits are hailing it as a contender for goal of the season but I prefer a half volley to hit top bins rather than scythe into the bottom corner – not fantastic control but a goal nonetheless.
The goal of the game came for Swansea to be honest (no bias!) as Tom Carroll played a huge part in another goal. His pass might’ve deflected into Sigurdsson’s path but it still reached its intended target and Gylfi made a mockery of Simon Mingolet by lifting the ball straight over the on-rushing Belgian.
In summary? Liverpool never led the game and never looked capable of doing so. Fernando Llorente looks content and rejuvenated and Clement’s new signings look like just the class of player we need in the race for Premier League survival – great day all round.
Friday, 20 January 2017
Paul Clement will no doubt be suffering with a hangover from his first game in charge; a senseless 4-0 defeat, and he’s probably cursing the people responsible for arranging the fixtures as his second game in charge is set to be equally as difficult – we’re off to Anfield to take on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool.
Ordinarily, there would be a great sense of optimism around a squad with a new manager and new signings but I just don’t feel there is at the moment. Martin Olsson is a great signing, I’ve always been a fan of his, and Tom Carroll has a very bright future but there’s just a ‘So What’ vibe about them both – I’m not saying I expected a bid for Cristiano Ronaldo but something more inspiring please?
Personal feeling aside, both the new boys are available for the trip to Liverpool and Olsson’s arrival couldn’t have been better timed. Neil Taylor’s fractured cheekbone is going to keep him out for at least three weeks and possibly more – the new boy is virtually guaranteed a starting place this weekend and what a test for your first game!
We still don’t have any details on Leon Britton’s mystery injury but as and when the grapevine starts shaking we’ll let you know. Realistically, it doesn’t look good for Britts getting a game tomorrow so there’s every chance that Carroll may make his debut from the start in his place – Clement has bought quite intelligently when you think about it.
The bad news is we’ve never beaten Liverpool at Anfield in the Premier League and the only victory we’ve recorded against them in the last five attempts was in 2015/16 at the Liberty. It would be nice if that streak was broken but Liverpool are unbeaten in 25 at home and looking for 26 when our lads come knocking; I can’t see us getting much from this.
We still need to invest, if there’s money left over, in an experienced striker and a solid defender. I can’t believe that Jose Fonte is on his way to West Ham for a measly £8 million – surely we should’ve chucked our name in the hat? And as for a striker, Dimitar Berbatov is still without a club and is probably worth taking a risk on!
For me, this game has loss written all over it purely because I’m a realist. I think even the die-hards are saying draw as far as I’ve heard so not a great mood around the city but I reckon we should just get this one over with and look on to the rest of the season.