Swansea City has finally gotten another monkey off its back with its first away win of the season. The first monkey of the season was waiting five games before the Swans got their first goal of the Premier League season (in a 3-0 home against West Bromwich Albion). And now, after convincingly beating Aston Villa 2-0 away at Villa Park, just 48 hours after Swansea drew Tottenham Hotspur 1-1 in an incredible display, things are starting to look up for Brendan Rodgers’s side. On top of that, Wayne Routledge got his first Premier League goal since 2004, and last but not least, Swansea’s two-nil win was a perfect way to commemorate the club’s 100th year anniversary (they were founded in 1912). All in all, it was a splendid day.
It’s amazing what a couple of brilliant performances in a row can do for a club. Sitting in eleventh position, Swansea’s next league match is against Arsenal at the Liberty Stadium. Considering that Swansea have only lost once at home all season, in the 0-1 loss against Manchester United, the Swans will be optimistic going into that match, scheduled for Sunday, January 15 (11am ET). But without getting too far ahead of myself, here are five positives to take from Swansea’s recent performances which will put them in good stead for the remainder of the season:
1. Depth. Swansea have quickly moved to sign Gylfi Sigurdsson on loan from Hoffenheim as well as picking up — out of the grasps of Everton and Liverpool — Cliftonville striker Rory Donnelly. Swansea manager Brendan Rodgers plans on bringing in a few more signings, but even without the new signings, several players coming off the bench for Swansea have impressed. The competition for places in the squad is getting more fierce. Nathan Dyer and Wayne Routledge are competing against each other for the right winger position. And in midfield, it’s a battle between six players for just three spots: Mark Gower, Leon Britton, Joe Allen, Kemy Agustien, Stephen Dobbie and Andrea Orlandi. At different times this season, all seven midfielders have been outstanding. The most pleasant introduction was Orlandi’s performance against Aston Villa where Swansea finally got some incredible service from a more attacking and creative midfielder.
Up front for Swansea, Leroy Lita and Luke Moore are competing for Danny Graham’s striker slot. Lita and Moore haven’t played much, but Moore was impressive against Spurs, while Lita did well against Blackburn (despite the team losing that match).
2. The way they play. Despite all of the player rotation at Swansea this season, their playing style has remained the same. It’s the same slick passing game that ensures that possession is maintained as much as possible. No matter who is on the pitch, the team plays the same type of football. Sometimes it’s more defensive than usual. Other times it’s more offensive, but as long as they continue playing their current brand of football without making too many mistakes, they should have enough in them to beat most of the teams in the bottom half of the table, at least.
3. They’re scoring goals. There have been so many cliches that football commentators have been saying all season about Swansea City. One of them was that they don’t score enough goals. While that was true at the beginning of the season, the Welsh club has been finding the back of the net a whole lot more easier lately. The most important barometer is that the club is creating plenty of chances in front of goal. Not all of them find the back of the net, but if they keep on pummeling the goal, like they did against Spurs and Aston Villa, they’re bound to score more goals.
4. No fear. Swansea has now played all 19 teams in the Premier League, and they’ve given a very good account of themselves. They narrowly lost against Manchester United, Blackburn, Norwich, Everton and Arsenal, and they got thrashed by Manchester City and Chelsea. But in all of their other games, they either drew or beat the opposition. Going into the return fixtures during the rest of the season, the Welsh side will have a lot more confidence.
5. A harder edge. One of the criticisms about Swansea has been that they’ve not been direct enough in the final third of the field. Instead of going for the killer blow, they often prefer to play the ball to the wings which often results in losing momentum and chances in front of goal. However, in the past few games, Swansea has found that harder edge. Part of it is the grit and creativity that Kemy Agustien and Wayne Routledge have added in midfield, but other players on Swansea’s squad have recognized Swansea’s weaknesses and battled harder to not only keep the ball in midfield, but to also thread through a better ball into the box to create havoc. The net result is less frustration (for viewers) and more chances created by Swansea.
Swansea City Football Club still has a long way to go before they can establish themselves as a Premier League club, but the report card halfway through this season looks very promising. The side is very strong in defense and goalkeeping positions. Most of the issues with midfield have been corrected. And Swansea still looks dangerous up front when given a chance. Hopefully Swansea can get a few more signings in the January transfer window to add a little more experience and creativity to midfield as well as some cover for defense. And with a little bit of luck and a ton of hard work, Swansea could be looking at a second stint in the top flight.