Saturday, 25 October 2014

Swansea vs Leicester - Expert Team News

Our resident injury guru Ben Dinnery gives us all the latest team news ahead of today's match



Swansea will be looking to capitalise on Leicester’s recent dip in form after last weekends’ controversial loss at the Britannia Stadium. Jonjo Shelvey returns from a one game domestic ban & his appearance will add steel to the midfield while Angel Rangel is in line to make his 300th appearance for the Jacks with Jazz Richards [knee] and Dwight Tiendalli [groin] both ruled out. Rory Donnelly and Jordi Amat are progressing however the pair are still around two weeks away. Leon Britton has stepped up his recovery from a bruised patella but we may have to wait until after the international break before we see a return to first team action. 

Displaying Premier Injuries.jpgLeicester have been unfortunate since their win over Manchester United - results have not reflected their performance - but goals win games & the Foxes have failed to score in 50% of their matches so far this season. Jamie Vardy was a late introduction at St James’ Park last weekend with Nigel Pearson preferring to go with a 4-5-1 formation – a change to try & accommodate winger Marc Albrighton - however I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Leicester revert back to their more familiar 4-4-2 set-up. No fresh injury concerns with long-term absentees Matthew Upson [foot] and Zoumana Bakayoko [ACL] still out.  

Thanks as usual to Ben for providing us with up-to-date team news. You can follow him on Twitter @BenDinnery, and you can also find him on Talksport, ESPN & PremierInjuries.com

#FlashbackFour - Swansea vs Leicester

Nathan Lewis takes his weekly look back at the last four fixtures against this weekend's opponents



This week’s #FlashbackFour contains four matches in the space of 366 days, with three matches in the Championship, and one in the FA Cup. Saturday’s match-up at the Liberty will be the first meeting between the Swans and the Foxes to take place in the Premiership, with Nigel Pearson’s side winning the Championship at a canter last season. They have made an impressive start to life in the top league, playing with confidence and abandon. Think of them as a more direct Swansea, if you will. 

2nd January 2010 - FA Cup Third Round
Leicester 2-1 Swansea

Same teams, same place, same score. Swansea fans were left feeling a slight sense of déjà vu, after we lost in the same manner as our visit to the Walkers Stadium the previous August. A flu bug restricted the selection choices of Manager Paulo Sousa, with the likes of Albert Serran and Marcus Painter getting a chance to make an impact on the first team. The Swans did get off to a decent start, with David Cotterill scoring from 30 yards to give his side the lead after 10 minutes. For the most part, Swansea dominated the first 30 minutes, certainly looking the more likely to score. 

A failure to put away chances however, allowed Andy King to score from the edge of the area, and the scores were level as half-time came. From then on, Leicester were undoubtedly the better side, and Swansea were unable to add to their first goal. It was a substitute that would provide the winning goal, as Danny N’Guessan – who had scored against the Swans on his competitive debut in August – headed in from close-range with just minutes left on the clock.  

16th January 2010 - Championship
Swansea 1-0 Leicester

It had been 54 years since the Swans had beaten Leicester. But, two weeks after losing in the FA cup, Paulo Sousa’s Swans found a way past the Midlands side. Sousa was able to select a much stronger line-up this time, with Rangel, Britton and Nathan Dyer all featuring. It was Dyer that caused headache after headache for the Leicester defence, and his pace and sharpness provided a spark to the customary control that Swansea held over the game. Nath was the creator for the only goal of the game, sprinting to the byline before cutting the ball back for Pintado(!) to score his first goal in nine months. It’s scary, maybe a little worrying that Gorka Pintado started both of these games. Maybe that says something about our defensive mindset under Sousa…

23rd October 2010 - Championship
Swansea 2-0 Leicester

Paulo Sousa must have liked Leicester so much on our three visits in 2009/10, that he decided it would be a nice place to ply his managerial trade. This was a big match-up against a former boss, then right? Nope. After just three months, the Champions League winner was sacked, and replaced with Sven-Goran Eriksson. Unlucky Paulo. 

So, back to the match. Marvin Emnes, what a man. Just four minutes into his Swans debut, having replaced Stephen Dobbie at half-time, Emnes outmuscled Curtis Davies and fired past the Leicester keeper to bring the Liberty Stadium to life. But he wasn’t finished there, sprinting right up to the last minute to square the ball for Scott Sinclair, who sealed the three points by poking the ball past the keeper. Welcome to Swansea, Marvin. 

3rd January 2011 - Championship
Leicester 2-1 Swansea City

While we broke a 56-year winless streak against the Foxes, a loss in this match meant that our search for a win in Leicester now stretches back 64 years. The first-half contained plenty of action, with three goals from two sides both playing at a very high tempo. As seems to be a constant throughout Swans history, we conceded two goals from corners, meaning that the take-away from this game was not Scott Sinclair’s fantastic finish to a lovely passing move, but our inability to defend from corners. 

The first came after six minutes, with Bruno Berner (who?) nodding past De Vries from close range. Leicester’s lead did not last very long though, with Sinclair curling a lovely finish into the net from 20 yards. The rest of the first-half was end-to-end, with the Foxes grabbing their winner through an almost exact replica of the first goal. The second half failed to live up to the high expectations set by the first, and the Swans only had one real chance to equalise, which Scott Sinclair fired wide. The wait for an away win against Leicester continues. 

Games Played: 4
Wins: 2
Draws: 0
Losses: 2
Goals scored: 5
Goals Conceded: 4

It seems that clashes between the Swans and the Foxes have been tight affairs in recent years, often being decided by just one goal. How these Championship results affect the score on Sunday remains to be seen, but we are infinitely stronger as a team than we were three years ago, and I feel that we will just be too much for Nigel Pearson’s side on Saturday. But then, I’d have said that about Sunderland, Newcastle and Stoke… We’ll see! 

My prediction: Swansea 2-1 Leicester

Thanks as usual to Nathan for his weekly #FlashbackFour. Do you agree with his prediction?

"We score one, now we must step on neck"

A big TSW welcome for debutant Jonathan Weaver. With the dust now somewhat settled after a very disappointing result on the weekend, He felt like putting down some of his thoughts. 





Before carrying on, there has been some excellent analysis from other bloggers including www.wearepremierleague.com and www.comeonyouswans.com, and also on this site, so I won’t go deep into tactical analysis or talk too much about Monk and Cheatgate.  Yes Moses went down easily, but that's far from the first and last time we will see that in the Premier League unfortunately.

My viewpoint basically comes from the stance that, we have in general equipped ourselves rather well over our three and a bit seasons in the Premier League now, and generally we've made strides along the way.  We have now been in this league long enough to consider ourselves a solid mid table team, and we have the players to back that up, but we - at times - still seem a little naive.  If you look at any of the games over the last few weeks, they all follow a similar pattern.  Play like Germany for the first 20 minutes and steam roller teams, either to not score, or if we do, be pegged back by half time.

The number of goals we are conceding between 40-45 minutes is criminal.  I know this weekend was a penalty, but knowing our luck and seeing the way we invite pressure on ourselves at times, you just knew that Moses was going to do that.  Sometimes you just wish in those situations a couple of the senior players would realise our weaknesses and focus on shutting a team out, or better still just playing keep ball as we had been doing for the previous 40 minutes.

I suppose my biggest gripe in terms of the naivety thing is this.  We are playing with two of the quickest wingers in the league, with an even faster player on the bench.  Now within the first 20 minutes of these games, Dyer or Routledge will skin someone and draw a yellow card for them.  In the game against Stoke, it was Shawcross who got booked for his “challenge” on Bony but you get my point.  Bardsley followed later into the book. Against Newcastle it was Coloccini with half an hour left and in the game against Sunderland it was Cattermole within 20 minutes, and against Southampton 3 out of their back 4 had been booked within 48 minutes.

Now most of these players are defensive minded players most of whom have some history of rash challenges, so would someone please tell me why on earth we aren’t getting the ball to Dyer and Routledge and sending them one on one against these players.  Shift formation, move positions, anything.  We saw the exact happen with Rangel for us.  He got a silly yellow, and then they targeted him again.  

Now i know this sounds very cynical of me, but every one of the other teams in the league does it, and I’m in no way saying we need to start cheating like that Stoke lot, but honestly, your telling me that if you or I were playing against Shawcross or Bardsley or Colocinni you wouldn’t be thinking the same, “right give me the ball, I’m gonna sell him this time and this donkey will kick me up in the air”  Its bound to happen.  But instead we seem to get a goal up or look comfortable, get a couple of their players booked and then be content to playing the ball around without going for it.

Sometimes this is where I think at times we would almost be better off at times having a second gear or getting players to really go for it.  I for one was quite unexcited by the signing of Marvin Emnes. Despite Matt Harrison's man crush on him [Ha! - Ed] I thought we signed a journeyman from the lower leagues, but the thing I like with him, is that he comes on, runs at people, tries to shoot, create stuff and is intelligent in the way he wins free kicks and penalties. Montero is much the same.  He comes on, and runs at players and crosses balls in.  Some games our wingers seem to forget the ability to do that at times, and luckily we have two wingers on the bench to remind them to keep on their toes.

The man, the myth, the legend that is Hazelton Wang once said “we score one, now we must step on neck” and he was right.  We need to kill these teams off before they even know its 30 minutes gone. I would love to see us heed his advice and keep up the tempo.  Look at the Champions League victories in midweek - did the aggressors let up? No, and their coaches were urging them on to score more, like with Koeman and Southampton last weekend too.

This business of moaning about decisions from the ref, yes I agree we have been hard done by, but we shouldn’t even be allowing teams a chance to turn a whole 90 minutes of football with one decision.  Against Stoke yes it was a dive, but we still had 45 minutes to score, and we hardly created anything of note.  Too often we get to the end of a game and moan about one decision, when in essence we have only ourselves to blame that we haven't created more.  Until they bring in video refereeing, there will always be dubious calls - the key for us is to not have those decisions affect our results.  Margins are tight in this league yes, but I think we have more than enough quality to string together the wins.

I wrote another blog recently about the things we need to change to succeed this season (link), and one of the points I made was about taking our chances.  We saw it this weekend again.  You don’t get many clear cut chances in this league.  We have to take them.

Whilst this may sound negative,if we can just get a result or two in a row the confidence will come flooding back, and I am 100% sure we can have a great season.  We have an amazing team, an amazing manager ...I mean, anytime I see Sigurdsson and Bony in a Swans shirt I still rub my eyes in disbelief.

Onwards and upwards.  In Monk we trust.

Thanks to Jonathan for that great debut piece. Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Weaver. It's a sentiment I agree with - we need to be more streetwise, and go for the kill when on top. Agree? Disagree? Get in touch!

Friday, 24 October 2014

Three things we learned from Stoke away

Huw Richards returns to look at three things to take from our last league outing, before Leicester City come to town tomorrow



1. Garry likes a rant


After the criminal 3-3 draw at the Liberty versus Stoke last year (Stoke again getting a dubious penalty), Laudrup said "Only one person in the stadium thought it was a penalty and that was the referee. It was a very bad decision." But Garry didn't hold back like Michael.

"The penalty against us is a disgrace. It's a disgraceful decision. Not in a million years is it a penalty" 

He certainly had a point. It is also quite refreshing to see a Swansea manager have a proper rant, in all honesty.

2. Tom Carroll can do a job


With England international Jonjo Shelvey suspended, a gaping hole was left in midfield, next to Ki Sung Yeung. Carroll was selected to fill the gap, and he didn't let anyone down.

3. Bony can still take penalties


After missing a penalty for Ivory Coast during the International break,and thumping the crossbar with one against Reading, he restored confidence in all Swans fan with an ice-cool penalty against the Potters.


Thursday, 23 October 2014

Time for a Plan B?

The first of two TSW debuts today, first up is Lucy Carpenter looking at whether we should be looking to start games with an alternate formation



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Whilst watching the build up for the Stoke City vs Swansea City game on Sunday, something caught my attention. Although I typically don’t take too much notice in the views of the majority of sky pundits (particularly when it comes to their ill-informed views on Swansea City - and lets face it, they were talking about Peter Crouch before the match as if he were Ronaldinho), one passing comment sparked a train of thought.

Unfortunately I can’t exactly remember who in particular said it and do not wish to commit myself to guessing as it is not really relevant to the point… It was essentially said that we were predictable and everyone knows what to expect from Swansea. Now this point is an obvious one that didn’t really need to be said. We all know the famous ‘Swansea Way’ - heck any half decent football fan does nowadays. The fluid possession based 4-5-1. The merits of which I feel need no explanation here from me. However I do feel like it would be interesting to experiment occasionally with the formation in certain situations.

During pre-season Garry Monk stated that a plan B and C are necessary for success in the modern game. At the fans' forum he also suggested the possibility of using a different formation for some matches. Switching to a 4 4 2 with a diamond midfield and the promising new addition to our strike force in the form of Gomis makes this option look more attractive than in recent seasons as lets face it we have not exactly had the wealth of options up front to try this.

Now it is unclear when (if) we would use this system, obviously not making it a regular thing and only using it in certain situations. However, I think it could be argued that this past weekend's fixture at Stoke could have been the ideal match to give it a try. My main reasons being Jonjo’s one match suspension and Leon’s injury that left us with a space in midfield, Also Stokes infamous "style", especially at home can, based on past matches, be a particular hinderance to ours. Sort of an ‘Anti Swans’ if you will.

Despite this I was not in the least bit surprised by Monks decision to select Tom Carroll as a direct replacement for Jonjo. Nor am I saying it was the wrong choice. In fact I thought that Carroll looked pretty well in the role - especially considering Stoke away is not the easiest place for a youngster to make your inaugural premier league start. I thought combined with Ki they controlled the midfield well in the first half.

In the 64th minute we got the change, with Carroll being replaced by Gomis thus looking like a switch to the ‘plan B’ formation with the intention of going on and pushing for the win. However, this quite drastic change resulted in dwindling our level of control on the game taking away our dominance in the midfield and therefore it pains me to say eventually losing 2 -1, conceding the second after we had changed system. So maybe Plan B wouldn’t work after all? Maybe its that we're just too ingrained in our system for it to work properly? Or it could be something we would need to start with in order for it to work.

This particular point reminded me of how under Laudrup we would sometimes use the ‘Three wingers’, which would only work really well when we started that way, and not so much when we changed during the match.  It will be interesting going forward if we would see us start with our Plan B, although maybe giving it a trail run in an early stage FA cup game may be a sensible option.

Thank to Lucy for getting in touch with her first piece. It's good to finally have a female contributor to the site too! The more the merrier, and if you want to write for The Swansea Way get in touch. You can follow Lucy on Twitter @LucyMay18.

I have to say I agree about our "Plan B" needing to be employed from the start. We've had the same formation for so long now that I think offering up a different proposition for opponents from the off would definitely be a good idea, and being brutally honest switching to 4-4-2 against Stoke only made matters worse. Do you think we need a second formation? Or should we just get better at the same one we've used for years?

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Victor Moses a cheat, but don't rumble with Sparky

Not a great weekend, was it? Josh Kilmister (predictably) is still reeling...


Swansea's players react incredulously to Stoke's penalty


Instead of talking about the game in its entirety, I’m instead going to talk about something that Monk has brought up time and time again in his post-match interviews; referees.

It’ll be no secret to you by now that Stoke’s equaliser that turned the game on its head was quite blatantly a poor decision from referee Michael Oliver which left Monk, as you can imagine, feeling hard done by and not for the first time this season. He spoke after the game calling Victor Moses (the man who went down to win Stoke their penalty) a cheat and claiming that the decision to award the penalty was “disgusting”, claiming that “even their bench couldn’t believe it was a penalty”.

Now from what I’ve seen, Monk’s opposite number Mark Hughes took this relatively well, claiming that it’s “unacceptable” to accuse his player of being a cheat and suggesting that he can understand Monk’s frustration.

“He’s obviously upset. We have to come in here twenty minutes after the game and speak about what’s gone on and sometimes you just have to bite your tongue. Maybe that will come with experience” Mark Hughes

Monk went on to talk about the fact that he is yet to hear back from referee’s Chief Mike Riley, describing it as “poor leadership” from the former top flight ref.

“It’s happening week after week and it’s always against us. I contacted referee’s Chief Mike Riley but haven’t heard anything and I think that’s poor leadership from him.

“This is the highest level and if they can’t perform at this level then they shouldn’t be there” [Talking about Premier League referees] Garry Monk

I’ll back Monk every step of the way. I think his passion for the club is phenomenal, but speaking your mind isn’t always the right thing to do in these situations. As Mark Hughes said, it can be difficult to keep your mouth shut when speaking straight after the game, but for me I think Monk should focus on our poor second half performance (again!) rather than the referee.

Now what I find hilarious is that the morning after Monk brings up the fact that he has yet to hear from Mike Riley, it appears that the PGMOL (Professional Games Match Officials Board) have woken up. Less than 24 hours after Monk expressed his feelings about Riley and Co, it’s been confirmed that a letter and DVD have been received and they will be contacting Monk as soon as possible. The way things have gone so far, don’t be surprised if that’s not in the near future.

Of course as fans, we can say what we like about referees and Stoke’s players without upsetting Mike Riley or Mark Hughes. Victor Moses is a cheat and I can’t remember the last time I watched a Swans game where the referee hasn’t shown a dislike to us - don’t be shocked to see Monk fined for his words in the coming weeks. 

As for a feud with Mark Hughes, I think that’s one fight he should back out of...

Thanks to Josh for this, his latest piece - you can follow him on Twitter @JoshKilmister

Patterns, Monk right about refs & why we should all calm down

Eric Imhof takes a look at how spotting patterns is key in turning around your fortunes




I remember it being said by I can’t remember who that all human problems ultimately stem from one of two mistakes: not recognizing a pattern when it exists, or thinking they recognize a pattern when in reality it doesn’t. With that said, I understand the tenuous nature of pointing out trends, especially over such short periods as four-game stretches (I’ll also comment on a longer pattern to even it out). However, with Monk’s recent comments about the refs and cheating in mind, I think there are some patterns he’s recognizing correctly and others he’s strangely omitting.

On the refs, I think (as I’ve written previously) that Garry Monk is technically correct: the Swans have gotten the short end of the stick, especially over the past four league games. Not only is this pattern concerning because the decisions have all turned out to be game changers in retrospect, but because it demonstrates for all other teams a very simple formula for beating the Swans: foul, early and often. Not only will you not be punished, but you’ll be rewarded—both by grinding the game to a halt and, as we’ve seen recently, winning penalties while the Swans are simultaneously reduced to 10 men.

Some stats to ponder: over the last four league games (L-D-D-L in form), the Swans have been out-fouled 60 to 44, while the Swans have seen 9 yellow cards, resulting in 3 sendings off. The opposition has only seen 13 yellow cards, and no reds, despite fouling at will (60 called fouls, it needs to be pointed out). Stoke alone fouled the Swans 17 times, accruing 4 yellows. But again, no reds, and a cheeky penalty bonus to boot. Frustrating.

But here’s a more worrying statistic: the Swans only scored 1 goal in the second half during those same four matches, and that was at home against Newcastle in a game they should’ve won 5-0. Now, the Sunderland and Southampton games could reasonably be chalked up to calls going against the Swans, rendering them limping through the last 45 minutes, but the last two games have been a replay of the same script - a reprise of so many games last season  - where the Swans miss early chances, get the short end of some “inconsistent” (I would say flabbergasting) calls, and ultimately wither away in the end, out of ideas and out of energy.

It’s actually such a common script for the Swans that it’s gone from frustrating to boring in my mind; so boring that I don’t even want to write any more about it.

In short, the Swans are getting screwed, and in a league of such tight scores and little room for mistakes, red cards and penalties can really manifest in the table. If not for the Bony & Rangel reds, and if not for opposing teams being allowed to hack away at Swans with relative impunity, Swansea might be looking down at the table from the top four.

But at the same time, one goal in four second-halves is not helping the matter. I’m not sure what Monk is telling the lads at half time, but at least one fan on Twitter speculated this morning that he’s not talking at all, but instead filling them all with morphine. I think the substitutions in the second halves of games have also been rocky, and I know I’m not alone in questioning some of the decisions as of late.

And yet, one final pattern to point out, in an attempt to pull everyone back from the ledge: you don’t win every game, and especially for a team at the level of Swansea, some groundedness will go a long way.

To put things in perspective, in the turbulent roller-coaster that ended up being A-okay that was the 2013/14 season, the Swans were 11-9-18. The previous year, in the 2012/13 season—the Best Season Ever because of the celebration of the centenary and the League Cup win—the Swans were (surprise!) 11-13-14, with a goal difference of negative 4, and with a 3-2-3 record over the first eight matches, including 2-nil losses at Aston Villa and Stoke. Sound familiar?

In conclusion: calm down, everyone, things will even out - providing Monk fixes some minor issues. The calls will probably almost certainly not start suddenly going in the Swans’ favour, but there’s not much Monk can do about that, despite his righteous (and right) public statements. What Monk can fix, however, is his team’s performance in the second half. He needs to help them concentrate, while making smart substitutions that play to their benefits and/or to the deficits of the other side.

Hopefully they can stay away from red cards, and get some confidence-boosting results (not necessarily wins) in November, a brutal part of the Swans’ early schedule. Also, Shelvey will be back. Britton will be back. Amat will be back. Ki is no longer looking lost. Fabianksi is a legend. As we usually say at the end of any disappointing performance: plenty of positives, plenty of positives...

Thanks to Eric for his latest piece - you can follow him on Twitter @AustinJackArmy