Swansea City: The Welsh Barcelona of the Premier League

“Y gem brydferth” — that’s Welsh for the beautiful game. Now I don’t know how many of Swansea’s players can speak their native tongue, but their fluency in the language of football was evident for all to see at Anfield this past Saturday. Approximately 650,000 people on earth speak Welsh (of which approximately 25,000 hail from the Chubut Province in Argentina, go figure). I would hazard a guess and say that far fewer than that can play football like the Swans of South Wales.

In the beginning of the season we saw glimpses of their easy-on-the-eye football, but they suffered a few lessons of humility on the road to some of the country’s best sides. They struggled to convert superior possession into goals. Once Danny Graham started finding the net, the pressure had eased somewhat. But even though they were seemingly turning a corner, doubts were still there. It was not so much the lack of goals as the primary criticism. Complaints were more heavily directed at Swansea’s conservatism around the half way line as they were often content to pass the ball backwards and sideways instead of taking risks with more threatening passes into the opposition’s final third.

At Anfield, commentators were slinging these same accusations in the early stages of the first half, before Swansea started to turn on the style and what transpired was a breathtaking display. Ironically, the game finished 0-0. But this was a classic example of the game’s potential to awe the spectator watching as the game unfolds, enjoying the build-up as it is often the events leading up to goals that involve the most magic rather than the goals themselves. This was not a vintage display from Dalglish’s Reds, but they still had opportunities to win the match. I doubt the Kop would have begrudged Swansea coming away with all three points as they were arguably the better side. It is rare for any team to come to Anfield and give them such a game, particularly a recently promoted side.

5’6”…..5’5”…..5’6”…..and 5’7”

These are the heights of the Swans’ midfielders Joe Allen, Nathan Dyer, Leon Britton, and Wayne Routledge respectively. But their speed was something to behold, and it caused real problems for Liverpool’s midfield. This was not only evident in attack but defensively as well. At moments it was like watching ‘Children of the Corn’ on the pitch: these little spritely figures darting around nicking red pockets.

A couple of times Luis Suarez dropped deep to pick up the ball only to be dispossessed by diminutive midfielders with far superior quickness. That is saying something because we all know how adept Suarez can be with ball at his feet. They applied considerable pressure when they did not have possession and passed the ball with Catalan ease. Swansea may not have scored on Saturday, but I believe they are getting closer to being a true threat in the Premier League. But unlike the swashbuckling football of Blackpool last season, Swansea have patience which will lead to fewer mistakes. An interesting statistic is the fact that Swansea have the best defensive record at home in the Premier League. They have only conceded one goal at home (and that was an own goal by Danny Graham). If the opposition can’t get the ball off you, they can’t score.

Long live the Welsh Barcelona! And perhaps the leaky defenses near the top of the table should take a leaf out of the Swansea playbook?

10 thoughts on “Swansea City: The Welsh Barcelona of the Premier League”

  1. Abertawe yn wych, ond na fyddai byth yn cael barcelona disgyn, gan fy mod yn ofni ein bod yn mynd i. ffawd yn ddidostur

    1. Cody, that’s not true. Just because they didn’t beat the opposition doesn’t make them look like Barcelona. The opposition teams such as Swansea and Norwich had to fight for their draws. Liverpool didn’t hand it to them.

      The Gaffer

      1. I know, it’s sort of a joke, and at the same time highlights my frustration at our results over the past 3 seasons. For example, losses to Blackpool at Wolves at home last season are cases where as Daniel Agger would put it, “Liverpool chased the ball around like a bunch of headless chickens.” I would also argue that Norwich and to a greater extend Swansea were deserving of all 3 points in their Anfield trips and that Liverpool were actually the team fighting, fighting not to lose.

      1. “Ouch” for sure. It is really tough to imagine any of the current bottom 3 avoiding relegation. Blackburn has some good players but if they can’t get Hoilett to sign an extension and end up having to sell him in January, all I can say is “Good luck, Venky’s.” The Wigan fairy tale looks like it’s coming to an end…they’ve got next to nothing going for them anymore. N’Zogbia is definitely missed at the rugby pitch. Bolton’s a sad story because Stuart Holden’s knee injury may keep him out the rest of this season and Lee’s broken leg isn’t getting fixed anytime soon.

        Honestly, can anyone really see either of those 3 teams getting anything going?

  2. Swansea are a side that plays very good football. But let’s be honest, they don’t play as well as they did in Liverpool every week. They try but other teams are able to stop them from doing so. Liverpool have been very ordinary so far this season. As much as Newcastle has been the surprise team so far Liverpool have been the most disappointing. That’s why teams like Swansea and Norwich can go to Anfield and get a result.

    IF Swansea can play this way on a consistent basis then I will consider them to be the Barcelona of Wales or the EPL. I do hope Swasea stay up as they are definitely a breath of fresh air and their style is pleasing on the eye.

    1. I don’t know Howard. I would argue that they’ve been playing well all season. It’s just that more people actually tuned in to watch them on Saturday because they played Liverpool.

      Swansea easily beat Stoke City, West Brom and Bolton. In the games they lost, they were the better side for 75% of the match against Norwich (but that 25% hurt them as they gave up some awful defensive errors). Swansea were outclassed by Chelsea (to me, that was Swansea’s worst performance this season). Against Arsenal, I felt Swansea were the better side and could have won or at least drawn the game (but a goalkeeping lapse of concentration gifted the victory to the Gunners). Against Wigan (0-0), Swansea were lucky to get a point. And against Sunderland (0-0), the Swans were the better side but couldn’t score. And we all know that they should have beaten Wolves, not drawn. Lastly, against Manchester City, the side controlled the first 20 minutes but were outclassed in the second half.

      So out of the 11 matches they’ve played thus far, they’ve been the better team in 8 of those games. Swansea have been outplayed in only 3 matches.

      I would argue that Swansea have all season been consistently playing at the high level that they showed against Liverpool — except for a few exceptions.

      The Gaffer

  3. I think the Swans (ex-resident now in Cincinnati, OH) will win much against the major teams such as the Manchesters, Chelsea, etc as they play them at their own game but with far fewer resources. Andy Carroll costs more than the entire Swans squad and Rooney probably gets paid more per week than the entire starting squad combined. But they will do well against all the other teams and I am confident they will avoid relegation.

    For the future though keeping their existing talent will prove tricky as they will be easily be outbid by any other team and convincing more players with sufficient quality to join them will prove even harder as they can’t afford inflated fees or wages.

    I think they should contact Barcelona and see how many of their reserves they can get on loan. This would be a win/win for both as the Swans get quality players at affordable rates while Barcelona get vital playing experience in top flight games in a similar system to their own.

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