SWANS KNOW HOW TO WIN UGLY
To say the battle of Turf Moor was an ugly match would be an understatement, this encounter made Quasimodo look like Brad Pitt. It was the sort of game in the past perhaps the Swans would have ended up drawing or perhaps even losing, but the class of 2014/15 under Garry Monk are made of sterner stuff.
The Swans nowadays are not afraid to do the dirty work, not afraid to dig in and roll up their sleeves and do a bit of graft. They had to just hang in there at times against the Clarets but they stayed patient and in the end, thanks to an extremely ugly own goal by Burnley naturally, they got the reward of the three points.
The new sternness of course is built upon the Swans solid defending and that defence is increasingly built upon what is rapidly emerging as one of the best central defensive partnerships perhaps the Premier League has to offer right now.
Skipper Ashley Williams has long shown his worth, but Argentinian international Federico Fernandez is emerging as an equal to his captain and the perfect complimentary player too. He was the man of the match against Burnley with Williams not far behind.
Burnley v Swansea City in pictures
THE ‘SWANSALONA’ DAYS ARE CERTAINLY NOT OVER
If there is one thing that gets short shrift from boss Garry Monk it is the suggestion that he is somehow dismantling the Swans renowned passing game. Swansea became everyone’s favourite ‘other’ team in the Premier League thanks to the way they went about approaching the game in the top-flight.
There was a lovely cavalier attitude to them, a freedom and flair as appreciated in Solihull and Smethwick as it was in Swansea itself. Monk in some quarters now has been accused of abandoning those principles, of turning the Swans into a more defensive, nullifying force.
It is an unfair accusation mind. While Swansea do now have a more battling edge to them, that has come into compliment an attractive side that can be displayed on the right occasions.
Monk talks of his side being ‘adaptable’ now and that they are. A home win over Manchester United followed by a victory away at relegation-haunted Burnley showed that. The Swans under Monk are a more complete package than they were and if that means putting the style aside in favour of some substance at times then so be it.
SIGURDSSON THE SWANS SUPREMO
Swansea are a strong team unit and that is the most important thing and there are few teams where one player is indispensable, but take Gylfi Sigurdsson out of the Swans right know and the Icelander starts to look like a vital presence. Against Burnley he was missing with a hamstring problem and the Swans really suffered as a result.
The same was true when he was suspended for three games during that ‘wobble’ at the start of this year too. The vital function Sigurdsson provides is linking up defence with attack, getting the ball up field quickly and exposing gaps left by the opposition as they press. Without him the Swans look ponderous on the front foot.
They did for long stretches at Turf Moor. Tom Carroll came in and did a solid enough job, but he just does not have the same kind of flair as Sigurdsson. If Swansea are to go on now and make it a really record-breaking campaign keeping Sigurdsson fit and firing is going to be of paramount importance.
THE RECORD IS ON. MOST DEFINITELY
The win at Burnley of course saw the Swans hit the magic 40 point mark, the amount seen as the required total to avoid relegation. It was achieved quicker than in any of their other Premier League seasons. They did it under Michael Laudrup with one more game played, 28, two years ago.
It is a feather in Monk’s cap indeed. The next target looming now is the highest ever total amount of points achieved which is 47 under Brendan Rodgers back in 2012.
There are 11 games left now and the Swans well and truly have that target in their sights. The Swans run in features games in which you would believe they can pick up a plethora of points actually. Aston Villa, Hull, Leicester and Crystal Palace surely all provide the opportunity for Monk and his men to shatter the record and even get over the 50 fabled point mark too.
Swansea City Premier League points total finishes
BONY IS MISSED BUT GOMIS IS ILL SERVED
The departure of Wilfried Bony to Manchester City was obviously going to be a big miss and there were many question marks over who might step up to fill the big boots of the Ivorian. The onus had fallen of Bafetimbi Gomis, but so far the Frenchman has failed to step up to the plate when it comes to finding the net.
The problem is that it is barely his fault. Gomis is not receiving the best of service and what he does get is not really suited to his style of play. He too often finds himself drawn deep in search of the ball with his back to goal. Matters are not helped that service from the flanks into the box right now is virtually nonexistent.
The Swans seem very narrow and Gomis is getting lost in the crowd. But however tough that is on Gomis it looks like Monk’s biggest task in the summer transfer window will be to find the new Bony or the new Michu for the Liberty Stadium. No pressure there then.
Action Images / Ed Sykes
Bafetimbi Gomis of Swansea City (L) and Jason Shackell of Burnley in action