Swanning around...

Posted by Chris Rann

Michu reacts after missing a chance to give Swansea the lead over ArsenalGettyImagesCan Southampton nullify the threat of Swansea's Michu?

Saints head to Swansea on Saturday for their fist league fixture in the city since a 3-0 defeat in 2008. Both sides are unrecognisable from that match, both fighting for a top 10 place in the Premier League, and both swimming in plaudits for their attractive style of play.

In fact, Swansea City could well be the best blueprint for Saints to follow now that they are back amongst the big boys, though with just three points separating them, Saints may be looking at overhauling them.

The quickest way to get that particular ball rolling would be to of course take all three points on Saturday. But how do Saints do that?

Firstly, play them at the right time. And this is it. The Swans are in their worst form of the season, without a win in four, while Saints are unbeaten in five. Perhaps the Welsh club are suffering from the cliched 'cup hangover' having won the Carling Cup in February, but whatever it is, this visit should provide no fear for a Saints team playing with confidence.

Secondly, and the most obvious one, keep Michu quiet. In the summer Saints were linked with the Spaniard and I was pretty excited, but many scoffed, as they had never heard of him. 17 Premier League goals later and he is without doubt the bargain of the season. £2 million. Hardly seems believable now. Interestingly, his assist statistics are pretty poor (2 for the season), which shows how confident he is in his own shooting. Contain Michu = Beat Swansea.

Thirdly, play high. This Swansea team don't like to defend the ball in the air (they win on average less than 40% of aerial duels). This may go against all of MoPo's principles, but with a forward of Rickie Lambert's stature, high balls into the box could be rich pickings. The instructions of all Saints wide players should be to get the ball in to the box at height for the big striker to attack. Also Hooiveld should be given a prime attacking role in set pieces.

Fourthly, take chances. Swansea's style of play, much like Saints, means that as well as creating a lot of chances, they allow their opponents to too. If Lambert and Rodriguez can capitalise then they can put the game beyond the hosts, alternatively if the back four aren't on their toes the situation could easily be reversed.

Fifthly, trust in the defence. At the start of the season, the back four came in for some serious stick. Over the course of the season they have improved drastically and with Artur Boruc on a new contract and Jos Hooiveld looking back to his old self it's time to get behind them.

Sixthly, sit back and enjoy the show. If both these sides play to their potential this might well be the most pleasing Premier League game on the eye all season!

Keep the faith.

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