Swansea City are Going to be this Season’s Overachievers


In the last number of years, there have been certain Premier League clubs that have punched above their weight and managed to finish close to the top of the table by the time the season ended. In doing so, these teams have become kind of like one season darlings to soccer fans of the Premier League.

On every occasion this has happened, the team hasn’t had the same budget as some of the teams they have finished above. Success with a smaller squad or having an above average manager have also contributed to perceived smaller clubs having success over the course of an entire season.

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  • Perhaps the most famous example of this in recent times has been the Everton team that finished fourth in the league during the 2004/05 season. Under future Manchester United and current Real Sociedad manager David Moyes, the team had a great blend of skilful and physical players. The result of this was an ability to play a superior brand of football against weaker teams, while also having a physical and disruptive approach when playing against the best teams in England.

    Last season it was Southampton who assumed this role, and they built their lasting success over the course of the campaign on a solid defence and strong midfield. Certainly this year they will be in the mix for a Europa League spot once again, but another team may be about to emerge as a genuine top six threat in this league.

    If you’ve been paying attention though, this may not come as a massive shock either, as they have been a tough team to beat since being promoted to the Premier League in 2011. That team is Swansea City.

    Talking about them as the team who can break into the top six teams may seem a bit much, but the reality is they’ve been on this ascent since being promoted. That first season in the big time they beat Manchester City, Arsenal and Liverpool at home.

    In 2013 they lifted the League Cup, beating Bradford City 5-0 in the final. During this time, they were guided by Roberto Martinez, the legendary Michael Laudrup and current Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers. These days, it’s former player Gary Monk who manages the team.

    So why then is this season going to be any different? What do they possess now that they did not have before? If anything, losing an attacking midfielder as prolific as Michu the season before last would hurt a team with a limited budget like Swansea. Blows like that continued last year as well, as Wilfried Bony departed for Manchester City. But you only need to look at the squad to realise their starting eleven is right up there with the best and most cohesive.

    It starts at the back, where Ashley Williams has been anchoring this team for years. While not the most mobile, he is a vocal leader and a tough tackler who sets the tone for this team, particularly at home. The message is clear every time they play, it will not be easy to break them down. This feeling continues with Lukasz Fabianski, who struggled with former club Arsenal but who kept 13 clean sheets last season, tied for second in the league.

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    South Korean midfielder Ki is massively important here too. He’s an underrated presence in the centre of the park. Technically very gifted, he can also look after himself when things get physical, and it is that aspect of his game that is overlooked. He controls the tempo while guys like Jonjo Shelvey work around him.

    Leon Britton has been with the team since their days languishing in League 1, and although he doesn’t see as much action these days, is a nice link to the clubs troubled past.

    Gylfi Sigurdsson is a class act and like Ki, is capable of dictating the action in the middle. He chips in with goals, assists and takes most of the set pieces, he’s a talisman for this club.

    These are all such positives for the club, to have players like this on their team. But things only get better the further up the pitch you go. The foundation is there to be hard to break down, as we have seen in their opening round 2-2 draw away to Chelsea.

    In Jefferson Montero, the club boasts a starlet who is only improving. Truthfully he came to the forefront last year, when he terrorised young Arsenal defender Calum Chambers during a meeting between the two sides. I’ve had my eye on him ever since and in many ways he’s like a mini Alexis Sanchez. Willing to work without the ball but always dangerous when on it, he’s a super winger for this club.

    Having a kind of x-factor player like that will always help you turn games in your favour, and Montero was effective against Chelsea. In Andrew Ayew however, this club now has another legitimate threat in attack. A former Ghanaian Footballer of the Year, Ayew is an exciting player who gets the crowd onside with his direct style of play and ability to beat his man.

    He showed tremendous composure in scoring his first goal for Swansea against Chelsea, and like Montero he requires the opposition to constantly keep an eye on what he is doing. I’ve always had a soft spot for Nathan Dyer, while Wayne Routledge has found a home and stability here, and both are impressive wingers to be able to call upon when needed. Young Jack Cork is another to keep an eye on.

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    Certainly the glaring weakness that this team has is up front. As mentioned before, this team has been able to call upon quality strikers in seasons gone by. These days Bafetimbi Gomis leads the line, but he’s a frustratingly inconsistent striker on the pitch. He did score against Chelsea from the penalty spot, and perhaps that goal will have done his confidence the world of good. But he missed a couple of clear cut chances before that.

    With Gomis continuing to be the lead striker here, this team may suffer in front of goal on some days. However, Ayew certainly has the ability to play further up the pitch and use his pace to lead from the front, and that may ultimately be where his future lies here. As a deep lying threat however, he looked extremely impressive against the champions.

    As we’ve seen however, this team can get goals from both their central midfielders and wingers, so they can take some comfort in that. However with the transfer window still open, nabbing a more consistent, potentially Premier League proven, goalscorer could be the missing ingredient to insure the team are pushing the established top six or seven sides all the way into next year. Somebody like a Loic Remy would work perfectly here.

    When you look at where this club have come from however, it’s hard not to be optimistic about where this team can go. They show many of the same qualities of that overachieving Everton side of a decade ago, and in some areas appear to be better on paper as well. They are likely to have probably their best ever season in England’s top flight, so don’t be surprised when they’re picking up trademark big wins at home and plenty of points away. They’re too talented not to.

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