Swansea City Turn the Corner


Recent months hadn’t been very kind to Swansea City. After starting the season with three wins and two tough loses to Southampton and Chelsea, the Swans seemed to have recovered from their shaky previous season. However, after that strong start, Swansea began to flounder.

This season the Swans have floated in the middle of the table. It wasn’t that they weren’t playing well, or rather, attacking well. The Welsh side struggled defensively, with every close call and break refusing to go their way.

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In January, Swansea sold star forward Wilfred Bony — their leading scorer — to Manchester City. Following the move, the Swans were torn apart at home, losing 5-0 to Chelsea.

The team then lost to Championship league opponent Blackburn Rovers in the FA Cup. During the match, Gylfi Sigurdsson — the creator and offensive heartbeat of the side — was sent off.

The Welsh side seemed to be in a free fall. Losing both of their best attackers — one permanently and one for almost a month — was killer. Although Swansea never quite seemed in danger of relegation, they just didn’t seem to have the edge the supporters were accustomed too.

A hard fought win the following week at Southampton was followed by a draw against Sunderland and defeat to the rejuvenated West Brom.

Manager Garry Monk and his team needed a win and refocus the season and give purpose back to the squad. Luckily, he had the perfect opponent. Manchester United, the team which Swansea defeated on the opening day of the season, were coming to town.

Sigurdsson would be back, and the team was just starting to recover from losing Bony. Still, playing against a United side that — while struggling — was nothing to scoff at. Monk needed an inspired performance to have any chance at winning.

He got that against United. Nearly everyone on Swansea had outstanding games. Monk again outsmarted Louis Van Gaal, setting his team up in a 4-4-1-1, with a diamond midfield, to counteract United’s diamond.

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Jack Cork sat in the base of the diamond to fend off Marounne Fellani, while Ki Sung-Yeung and Jonjo Shelvey marauded forward, helping Sigurdsson, Wayne Routledge and Bafetimbi Gomis keep David De Gea under pressure. Gomis showed that he is an able replacement for Bony, nearly scoring off several corners.

In the end, this game came down to Monk tactically defeating Van Gaal. A superior performance nullified United’s attack. The side was especially bolstered by the strong performance from Cork and Captain Ashley Williams.

Swansea City are almost certainly safe from relegation now. Although they have no hope of winning silverware — they are out of both cups and have little chance at Europe — the Swans rejected the Newcastle approach, deciding that playing like you’re waiting for the season to end is not the way to go.

A team playing like this, with almost no motivation, should be an encouragement to Premier League fans, especially contrasted with Newcastle or Aston Villa last season.

Swansea are still to host Liverpool in three weeks as well as Manchester City in the penultimate game of their campaign — one that could still be crucial to the title chase. Don’t be surprised to hear more upsets coming out of Wales.

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