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It’s Time For Swansea to Stop Pinning Their Hopes On Danny Graham

This is starting to become a season of frustration as a Swansea supporter. Not because we’re scoreless after four games, but because we’ve held our own against Manchester City, Wigan, Sunderland and now Arsenal.

In the game Saturday at Emirates Stadium, Swansea gave away a gift of a goal to Arsenal. For 90 plus minutes, the Swans battled hard and matched Arsenal. Swansea weren’t bossed off the pitch. Instead they held their own, created plenty of chances and gave Arsenal fans a few nervy moments.

But in the game of Premier League football, the most that people will remember a few weeks from now from this game is the scoreline. And the fact that Swansea lost.

Before the match, I was cautiously optimistic — at least to myself. The last thing I wanted to do was to go out and start bragging that Swansea could snatch a point or get an away win at Emirates Stadium.

The reason for my optimism was the style of football that Swansea plays and how that fits against Arsenal. Two teams playing a Spanish style of football. As opposed to playing against teams like Wigan or Manchester City who have a steely midfield, Swansea could fight mano-y-mano against the Gunners. At the end of the day, the team playing the best possession football would create the most number of chances, if they could capitalize in the final third. However, that has been a consistent obstacle for both Arsenal and, especially, Swansea this season.

Before the match, I wondered why Swansea assistant manager Colin Pascoe was the one giving Arsene Wenger the pre-match handshake only to find out that Brendan Rogers had to return to Ireland due to a death in the family. At times like these, family is more important. But what an unfortunate situation for Rogers to miss out on Swansea’s biggest game of the season thus far in a game where they had half a chance to win rather than the Manchester City game where it was over before it started when you consider the superstars on Mansour’s team.

But then, thinking about it, I wondered if Roger not being with the team would give the Swans the incentive to “win it for the manager.” Such is the tight bond that Rogers has with his players, that him not being there could inspire them to give it their all even more so than usual.

Swansea hit the crossbar through Scott Sinclair. Szczesny had to make a fingertip save from an early chance courtesy of Danny Graham. Other than that, there were a few crosses fizzed into the box, but Swansea were unable to latch on to them or were out of position to make their chances count.

The frustration is that I’ve seen plenty of teams battle in the Premier League. Some of them were awful and deserved to be relegated (Derby County and Hull City, just to name two). But this Swansea side can play football. The two things they’re missing are that creative midfielder who can create something out of nothing, and a goalscorer up front who will do something special.

Danny Graham, after playing four matches for the Swans, is not that man who will create something special. He’s a strong, physical striker who gets into good positions, but there have been several chances now that he’s wasted against Arsenal, Wigan and Sunderland. It’s time, I believe, to give Graham a rest and try a different tactic.

The challenge for Swansea is that there aren’t that many other players who can step in and do better. Swansea bought conservatively in the summer transfer window. Being fiscally responsible is great for the sustainability of the club, but it doesn’t help on the pitch.

For me, Luke Moore is too slow and not decisive enough. Leroy Lita has done nothing to impress me so far this season even though he’s only had a few appearances as a substitute. But I would prefer to see Craig Beattie given a chance. He’s a similar build to Graham, and putting him up front against West Brom in their next game may be the chance he needs to grab that goal that the Swans desperately need. Beattie impressed last week when Swansea reserves beat Liverpool reserves. He deserves, at least, a chance on the bench, if nothing at all.

In middle, it looks like Kenny Agustien may be out for some time due to a hamstring injury. Wayne Routledge is recovering from a knee injury, which is why Mark Gower came on for Agustien today. But whether it’s Gower or Routledge, that position to me is covered unless the Swans can bring in some fresh new blood in the January transfer window. But that seems so far away now.

As for Arsenal, I was unimpressed. The three points will give the Gunners and Wenger some much needed breathing room and confidence. But I didn’t see that slick Arsenal passing game today that has been missing for months. And other than Robin van Persie, I didn’t see anything special against a Swansea side which is several depths below Arsenal in the talent pool.

In the back, Steven Caulker impressed me for Swansea, especially his goal line clearance. Scott Sinclair is frustrating me a great deal, however, this season. He’s not getting as much time with the ball, so when he does get it, he seems to show promise but then runs out of ideas or loses it too easily. This is not the same Sinclair that I knew and loved last season.

Lastly, the one major player that Swansea is clearly missing is Fabio Borini, now at Roma. Borini was the difference that Swansea had last season, and they’ve been unable to replace him with someone of the same quality. That was a player who had something special, which Swansea now desperately lack. It’s no surprise that Brendan Rogers, who sadly missed the game today due to a death in the family, tried to sign Borini in the transfer window. But left with Graham, a decent footballer, he still is sadly not what’s needed at this level (take, for example, his miss at the end of the Arsenal game when he volleyed the ball over the crossbar in front of an open net).

Swansea pinning their hopes on Danny Graham is not going to keep the Swans up. I’m sure Graham will find his touch now and again this season, but they need better alternatives up front and it’s time to mix things up.

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  1. MG

    September 11, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    Another thing, and it must be said, Swansea’s support was very impressive to see/hear. Throughout the whole match, just like at CoMS, they were heard loud and clear.

    Again, I believe they will fair much better as the season progresses.

    • The Gaffer

      September 12, 2011 at 3:04 am

      Thanks for pointing that out MG. The 3k Swansea fans outsung the 57k Arsenal fans for the entire first half.

      The Gaffer

    • MG

      September 12, 2011 at 11:17 am

      fare much better*

  2. Jason

    September 11, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Gaffer, I also have the same sound issue with Fox Soccer. I am a Cox subscriber in CT. So this is not a cable/satellite provider issue but a Fox issue.

  3. Alan Knut

    September 11, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Swansea did not hold their own against Manchester City. They lost 4-0. Swansea played decently for 20-30 minutes at the beginning, but City’s defense and midfield didn’t really allow any major threats.

    • The Gaffer

      September 11, 2011 at 11:55 am

      Alan, you’re correct. Swansea held their own against Manchester City for the first 57 minutes of the match when it was still 0-0.

      The Gaffer

  4. IanCransonsKnees

    September 11, 2011 at 5:10 am

    ‘Swansea can, as you say, play football and play it very very well. Their passing is a joy to watch and they will NOT be relegated if they continue to play like that.’

    Remind me again where Hull, Burnley & Blackpool are?

  5. mike

    September 11, 2011 at 4:17 am

    couple things…

    1.can’t below you actually spent time writing this garbage

    2.did you actually expect arsenals passing to top notch with 2 new players in the starting xi? really? arsenal had a million more chances as usual..yer team sucks…deal with it

  6. The Gaffer

    September 10, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    As an aside, two things I noticed about FOX Soccer’s broadcast of Arsenal vs Swansea today were:

    1) This has happened many times before, but every few minutes the volume switches off for 1-2 seconds. I’ve brought this up in the past to FOX and they said it was an issue with the TV providers, but I’m wondering if others have experienced the same thing, and

    2) I noticed a new effect that FOX Soccer is doing when they run one of the ‘Events’ notices at the bottom of the screen during a game. The new effect is that they turn the screen blue for a split second, so the green pitch turns blue. It’s a tiny effect, but it bothers me and is, I feel, unnecessary.

    The Gaffer

    • RedMD

      September 11, 2011 at 8:49 am

      As a further aside, Fox Soccer’s use of their own score bar and animations throughout the game instead of the ones from the international feed…perhaps a prelude to the presentation for matches to be run on Fox Network?

      Also, why is it they feel the need to constantly show the highlights from every match at the beginning and middle of any other individual match? Are they just that unable to muster the concentration necessary to actually analyze the one match at hand, and save the highlights for–God, forbid–their highlights show? Really, there is almost no analysis of any given match they are showing, their presenters (or announcer for the 12.30 match) take the time to mention just about anything else they can which has no bearing on the match they are showing. They barely get the lineups out at times. Something’s got to change at some point, especially as other broadcasters consistently show the ability to produce a better final product (ESPN for sure…and lets see what NBC manages to do with their recently acquired football rights).

      • RedMD

        September 11, 2011 at 8:50 am

        Also at half time of Utd-Bolton when they showed theother league scores, they used a NE Revolution logo next to Wigan in the 3-0 score listing with City.

    • Efrain

      September 11, 2011 at 9:09 am

      I have Directv and I also had the sound issues, Gaffer. You use Comcast right? So two different providers with same audio issue? Its probably Fox and not the providers.

      • Guy

        September 11, 2011 at 9:21 am

        I have TWC. Same problem. Unfortunately, I also have it with ESPN’s matches, so maybe it’s something on my end.

      • The Gaffer

        September 11, 2011 at 11:55 am

        Yep, I’m a Comcast customer.

        The Gaffer

    • Aaron

      September 11, 2011 at 10:19 am

      I have a small town cable provider and also have the volume issues. It happens during all programming as well, international, EPL, and Serie A. I am pretty sure it is a FOX problem.

  7. Andyb

    September 10, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    I think Danny Graham is the best of a bad bunch of strikers at Swansea, also, I think I read the other day that Borini’s been loaned to Roma and a deal of 10m will be done at the end of it, so there was no chance of that happening.

    • The Gaffer

      September 10, 2011 at 7:18 pm

      Andy, yep, Roma picked up Borini from Parma before he even played a game. There’s no chance of him coming back to Swansea now.

      The Gaffer

  8. MG

    September 10, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    Tough loss for your Swans, Gaffer. To be honest (and this goes without saying), we didn’t deserve 3 points today. This was a 0-0 draw or a 1-1 draw if the few chances that Swansea had were put away, especially during the heart-pounding final minutes, with Graham’s attempt almost going in.. Swansea can, as you say, play football and play it very very well. Their passing is a joy to watch and they will NOT be relegated if they continue to play like that. They will get their shares of wins once they don’t have to play Man City and Arsenal, both matches away in the first month of the season. Vorm’s mistake was unfortunate.. But if anyone knows about unfortunate mistakes for the past few months (Almunia comes to mind haha) it’s Arsenal.

    As far as Arsenal goes, it’s basically not good enough. Not awful, a little brilliant in certain situations, but not deadly enough, not accurate enough.. So much room for improvement, which is, if anything, a massive bright side. Just like last season, too many close calls and ‘almost’ goals.. That sh*t has to stop. F**k off and get in it.. Time to get back on track. Again, should have been 0-0 to be fair to Swansea.. We were lucky to win this 1-0, but Vorm’s mistake was our gain. Arsenal were/are wobbly and still easily beatable and they have to solidify their defense when they need to most.

    Arsenal can get better, the question is will they. Overall, needs improvement, but 3 pts is 3pts.

    Also, Mertesacker.. loved him in this match. He has a natural solidness and is calm in the back.. a natural defender. His calmness and pass accuracy is what really impressed me. He doesn’t seem like a panicker. He’ll do us well. Curious to see Santos, more attacking wise than defensive, actually. And Ju Young of course.

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